The Guelph Student Mobilization Committee (GSMC) was created in the summer of 2012 at the University of Guelph by a group of students inspired by the Quebec Student Strike. This movement demonstrated that youth today are not apathetic, and are ready to lead the popular struggle for social change. All across the world student movements have exploded: from Quebec, to California, to Chile, they are organizing and making it clear that youth are ready to take action for a better future.
Guelph Student Mobilization Committee Basis of Unity:
BASIS OF UNITY
I. We campaign for a free, accessible, public post-secondary education system; we also demand student debt amnesty.
II. We campaign against cuts that affect the quality and diversity of University programs; we are for a democratic and broad curriculum free from corporate control.
III. We stand in solidarity with students all over the world that are struggling towards the same goal.
IV. We recognize that this struggle for accessible tuition is connected to a larger emerging movement of resistance against the general austerity measures that are being imposed on the populations in this country and across the world.
V. We defend the democratic rights of students to assemble and organize collective action.
Meanwhile, in Ontario, students are facing tuition fee increases that are well above inflation each year, and since 2006, tuition fees have risen up to 71%. On average, Ontario students graduate $37,000 in debt. Not only are Ontario students faced with rising tuition fees (which are a sign of austerity), but we are also threatened by the Ontario Government reducing the quality of our education. In a leaked document from within the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, government policy makers have revealed they want 3 out of 5 of our classes to be offered online, and more 3-year degrees with mandatory summer semesters. In a recent report from this same ministry, titled “Strengthening Ontario’s Centres of Creativity Innovation and Knowledge,” Minister Glenn Murray writes, “Ontario’s 20 publicly assisted universities contribute to the development of Ontario’s innovation economy through the education of a highly skilled workforce to meet labour market needs and research and development (R&D) activity and commercialization.” Alternatively, the Guelph Student Mobilization Committee believes that University should be an institution where students learn to think critically.
It also must be pointed out that the use of the term “publicly assisted universities” is a sign that universities are being increasingly privately funded. GSMC opposes this vision, and calls for Ontario universities to be fully publicly funded and free.
All across the world people are now facing austerity budgets in the aftermath of the global recession brought about by greedy bankers and their neoliberal governments. This latest round of attacks includes cuts to social services, privatization of institutions (including post-secondary education through increased user fees), deregulation of environmental policies, increased spending on the military, jails, and policing as well as other pro-corporate, anti-people policies.
We are seeing such austerity attacks here in Canada. In Quebec, students began organizing against a 75% tuition hike, the imposition of a flat tax of $200 per citizen for access to health care, and the Plan Nord that will open up protected areas and Indigenous territories in northern Quebec for mining and gas exploitation.
Under the Harper Conservative Government we have seen reduced corporate taxes, deregulation of environmental policy, the introduction of a new program that entrenches the exploitation of migrant workers by allowing employers to pay 15% less to migrant workers than Canadians, increased military spending, the denial of access to health care for refugees, and much more.
In Ontario, people have had to deal with rising tuition fees which are higher than any other province in Canada, a prospective freeze on the wages of public workers, a freeze in welfare, and many other austerity measures, all while the Ontario government has moved to slash taxes on corporations down to a measly 11%, one of the lowest in North America.
The GSMC wants as many students as possible to join our group. We are committed to building the movement in Ontario through action. Quebec has seen the average student become an advocate for a better, more equitable society. We and many other students across the province want this to happen in Ontario. Let’s spread this energy in order to overturn the balance of power in Ontario from one that perpetuates a society that puts profit ahead of the vast majority of people, to one that is pro-student and pro-people!