Students to rally against cost of tuition at National Day of Action

The Canadian Federation of Students are organizing a national day of action on Nov. 2 to protest rising post-secondary education costs. Image via CFS/Facebook

The Canadian Federation of Students are organizing a national day of action on Nov. 2 to protest rising post-secondary education costs. Image via CFS/Facebook

On Wednesday, Nov. 2, students across Canada are participating in a National Day of Action, with a multitude of events all co-ordinated by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). Students across the country will ensure their voices are heard while advocating for lower tuition fees, more funding for students, and, in B.C. particularly, fairer student loan rates.

The CFS is a national organization that advocates for various issues around post-secondary education — primarily affordability and accessibility — on its members’ behalf. They represent over 60 universities across Canada. In Victoria, a rally hosted by the UVic NDP Club, the Young Communist League, and Socialist Fightback at UVic will take place in front of the McPherson Library at 1 p.m.

Members of both the student body and the greater Victoria community will be speaking at the rally. Dillon Storie, a member of the UVic NDP club and an organizer of the event, says it provides a rare opportunity for students to truly have their voices heard regarding an issue that directly affects them.

“You have a kind of solidarity angle to it where if you want to go out and have your voice be heard, you can,” says Storie. “You don’t have to just be by yourself, downtown with a megaphone, screaming out of your car.”

The UVic campus has played host to rallies or protests that push for accessible education before. But with an upcoming provincial election in May 2017, Storie believes that this is a particularly important year to discuss the issue.

“I think that having this in an election year will get the attention of whoever [sic] forms government in B.C.,” Storie says. “It is absolutely crucial to have a sustained pressure [from year to year], but this is a crucial year for British Columbia.”

However, the UVSS itself will not have its name attached to the event. On Oct. 24, Storie made a presentation at a UVSS board meeting in which he requested promotional support — a banner over the Student Union Building and promotion on social media — before the rally. Although Storie assured the various directors that the event was in keeping with the UVSS’ advocacy priorities, the request was denied.

Kevin Tupper, UVSS director of finance and operations and a vocal opponent of the request, cited concerns around the event’s association with the CFS — an organization that the UVSS underwent a drawn out legal battle to separate from — as well as fear of a partisan slant, as the UVic NDP Club is directly involved in organizing the rally.

At the meeting, Tupper acknowledged that while “the cause was good,” the UVSS could not “break their commitment to non-partisanship.” He also cited the 2011 referendum in which the student body voted to leave the CFS, as well as reports from the Martlet and the Nexus Newspaper at Camosun College to back up his position.

For Storie, the UVSS’s concerns are unfounded. He acknowledges that people across the country have problems with the CFS, but he stresses that participation in the event is not compliance with every other CFS policy.

“We’re an unaffiliated . . . university. What that means is that we do have the benefit of picking and choosing events that do fit in with our agenda,” Storie says. “This isn’t a call to re-federate, or anything like that.”

“This is a slate that ran on a free speech platform,” Storie says, referring to those on the board that ran for election under Encompass UVic last spring. “They didn’t have to buy into what we thought the problems were, but ensuring that everybody’s voice is heard on campus would have been a nice step.”

More info on the National Day of Action is available on Facebook and cfs-fcee.ca.

4 Comments

Avatar Kevin Tupper

Hi Greg, absolutely in agreement, but endorsing events run by the UVic NDP and the Young Communist League is partisan, which violates our policy and is why the board unanimously voted against supporting this event. #Tupperhere

Avatar Greg Teuling

Going to have to disagree, the Young Communists club and the NDP club are helping to organize UVics participation in a protest from coast to coast, involving students from every walk of life. This is a STUDENT issue and a CANADIAN issue. It’s shameful that UVSS policy prohibits you from supporting this, the UVSS should have been organizing this.

Avatar Dillon Storie

I think you should elaborate on what exactly the UVSS means when it says it wont support a partisan event, and if possible, point to a written policy they have or other such governing documents of the UVSS that bars the UVSS from helping us. You seem to be operating on the assumption that this rally is being directed by some sort of grand political entity to bolster the support of not one, but three different political organizations on campus, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

This rally has always been about grassroots organizing on campus by people who, though indeed members of several political groups, are advocating for a set of policies divorced from any larger party or group. As we have said from the beginning this is about bringing attention to the issues of student debt, rising tuition fees and educational justice. I repeatedly said to the UVSS at the meeting that we were actively branching out to other groups on campus and we invited as many as we could collectively think of to take part. This is something the UVSS could have helped us with as well.

This idea that there can be no ‘partisan’ politics whatsoever behind any action taken on campus is absurd, at least on the way acted upon by the UVSS. The reality of the society we live in is that all issues have homes with political groups and parties, and if we expect that any group that wishes to act upon an issue be divorced from any such group then its easy to see how that effectively silences the student body.

We should take a second and reflect on the fact that for the entire month of October, the first item on the chalkboard outside the UVSS office was an event for a campus political group at Felicitas. I know the UVSS wanted us to have the rally at an empty legislature, but maybe we should have had it at the pub instead.

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