Students concerned new fee rules could hurt services delivered by student groups
College and university students rallied at Queen’s Park today in opposition to cuts to student grants and a new policy that they say could defund student groups on campus.
Students are concerned that it could have a large impact on the funding that student groups receive.
“The Ford government recognizes that students will be fighting against the proposed changes because we believe in quality, affordable post-secondary education.” said Nour Alideeb, president of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.
“We know that the proposed changes to democratically-recognized tuition fees are a thinly veiled attack on student unions that provide essential services and programs to the student population and have been championing affordable education for decades in this province. We will oppose with all our strength these changes. ”
At the announcement yesterday, Merillee Fullerton assured that health and safety programs such as safewalk, mental health and counselling will be maintained at the schools and fees for those would still be mandatory. But there are many more supports and clubs in place at schools that might not be protected.
“That fact that it’s so vague makes it so that no one can really plan for anything properly, because just everyone is kind of scrambling around.” said Jacob Dubé, editor-in-chief at Ryerson’s student newspaper The Eyeopener and the Ontario representative for the Canadian University Press (CUP).
A statement issued by CUP last night note that “most of our member papers rely on student fees to fund their work. Without access to this funding, Ontario student publications will not be able to operate. The jobs they provide to students will be gone. Their important role of holding governing bodies, whether student unions or university administrations, to account will go unfulfilled.”
While everyone will be impacted by the new changes, many people at the rally were concerned about marginalized groups and those with low income.
Some student unions were also concerned about advocacy groups for marginalized people such as LGBTQ as well as additional supports like food banks being underfunded under the new policy.
As well, a new requirement that at least 50 per cent of the OSAP funds will be loans, which will leave many students who relied on tuition grants facing hardship in the next year.
“I come from a low income family, like many students do.” said Jorge Cordero a graduate of George Brown College. “We work multiple jobs, we still can’t pay for tuition ourselves. We need the support of the government and we need the tuition to be free.”