Students across Canada protest rising tuition fees
By Ashley Aalto, Staff Writer
On November 2nd, many university and college students across Canada participated in the Day of Action, a day of protest against high tuition fees for post-secondary students. This was done through the Fight the Fees campaign, which is dedicated to changing the existing fee framework in Canada so it can benefit students, and not just institutions.
For the Day of Action, a Fight the Fees protest took place in The Study Coffeehouse at Lakehead University. The event was very successful, as passionate students flooded The Study to listen to speakers, participate in protests, and sign a petition to eliminate tuition fees. “We had about 250 signatures only on the Day of Action, meaning we had more than 300 students attending and learning about the effects of high tuition fees and what we, as students, can do about it. Over all, after class talks and other tablings, Lakehead University collected 600 signatures!” says Samia Burhani, one of the event coordinators, when asked about the event’s success.
Tuition fees and student debt are the highest they have ever been. With the average university tuition cost being upwards of $7,000 in Ontario and most undergraduate students earning part time minimum wage, it can be very difficult to afford post-secondary education. The Fight the Fees campaign page explains that people who come from low to middle income families often end up paying more for their education than people of high socio-economic status. This is due to the high rates of interest that are placed upon educational loans, which people of low to mid income are more likely to use. The Fight the Fees campaign page also states that this can be holding back individuals that identify as a minority from reaching their full educational potential, as “these barriers are made worse for students from marginalized communities. Indigenous and racialized students are more likely to come from lower income households and therefore less likely to be able to pay for school without taking on debt. Students facing other forms of oppression, such as ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and sexism are less likely to have the services and support needed to access education.”
After the event, Farhan Yousaf, one of the event coordinators, told The Argus, “Fight the Fees is a campaign that has united students from across the country. Thousands of students have come out to demand free education for themselves and future generations. The Day of Action is just the beginning. This is just the start and students will not rest until their demands are met.”
The Fight the Fees campaign hopes to eliminate tuition fees, to convert provincial student loans into non-repayable grants, and to eradicate interest on currently existing student loans. Samia told The Argus, “This event was held to raise awareness of each student’s pain and to make sure that each student knows what the fees has done to us.” She encourages people to recognize how high tuition fees have had an impact on their lives and to take action. She, along with many other Canadian students, have the hope that in the near future, tuition fees will be eliminated and everyone will be able to have access to a higher education.