GBC students walk out to demand fairer refunds and more democracy

Students at four colleges walk out to protest how refunds are being administered after the college faculty strike

About 40 students braved the cold and snow outside St. James campus on Friday saying that both staff and students got a raw deal during the strike by college faculty. 

The action was co-ordinated by Ontario Students United across four college campuses, with protests at George Brown, St, Clair, Sheridan and Centennial colleges. 

GBC student Marco La Grotta delivered a fiery speech targeting upper management.

“Why should they care about us? They got their six figure salaries, they got a car, they got a nice home. Why should they care about us? They’re not accountable to us,” he said to the group of students gathered in the snow.

Nour Alideeb from the chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students—Ontario was at the GBC protest.

“Just because the strike is over doesn’t mean we’re finished fighting,” said Alideeb.

The students proceeded to enter the main St. James campus building and walked up the stairs to the president’s office, where they read off their list of demands. GBC’s president Anne Sado entered the room filled with protesters, calmly listened to students and took the demand letter from La Grotta.

The demands of the protest were around how the colleges are handling student refunds; more full-time faculty with academic freedom, a restructuring of the College Employer Council to include faculty and student representation;  the creation of an academic senate; and increased services for Indigenous and international students.

At Centennial College, according to organizers, a core group of 40 students added people as they marched through the hallways, with students leaving their classrooms and filling the halls as the march passed by, growing to about 80 students. 

Sheridan college had a smaller protest Friday, but had about 150 people at a “photo-voice exhibit’ called “the students strike back” the day before. All the protests were in solidarity with staff legislated back to work, as well as for students affected by the strike.

James Fauvelle is one of the organizers from Centennial. Before the strike he was just a student in class learning that his school year was likely to be disrupted, but now he is a key organizer behind last Friday’s multi college walkout and giving interviews on live TV.

 “I’ll be honest with you several weeks I didn’t think my voiced mattered, but throughout  this whole process I’ve realized that it does,” said Fauvelle. “I realize that all it takes is that one voice, that one rock in the water to start a ripple effect.”

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GBC students walk out to demand fairer refunds and more democracy