Massive turnout for national day of action against tuition fees

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Written by Scott Gilbert

The Central Student Association (working in conjunction with the Canadian Federation of Students) organized a march and rally today against skyrocketing tuition fees.

Some of the materials handed out explained the depth of the problem. One illustration compared what Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty would have to do to attend law school presently, with what he actually faced almost 30 years ago. Minimum wage was $3.50 per hour when he started law school in 1980, and his tuition was $698 per year, meaning he would have to work only 5 weeks at minimum wage to pay his tuition. Comparing those numbers to the present $8.75 per hour minimum wage and law tuition of $20,155 at U of T, then Mr. McGuinty would have had to work for 58 weeks straight to cover the bill - more weeks than there are in a year. This example is a great way to illustrate the drastic rise in fees that students now have to deal with, and the debt with interest many must incur just to graduate.

Today's protest started in the heart of campus at the cannon with speakers and a rally, which turned into a march to St Georges Square in downtown Guelph. The demonstrators gathered in the square for about an hour to hear more speeches from student leaders before marching once again to end at the office of Liz Sandals, the local MPP.

Several hundred people took part in this demonstration including many U of G students, community members both young and old, and particularly noteworthy was the presence of high school students. These demonstrations rarely draw large numbers of students in high school for a host of reasons but today was very different - they showed up on mass with signed in hand and were some of the most articulate and passionate on the scene.

Police presence was obvious, but not overbearing. The rally and march were well planned to avoid any confrontations, and the event was quite peaceful.

Several media organizations were present as well, including at least 2 camera crews.

For additional photos from today's protest, please check out our photo gallery on it here.

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  1. Posted by: libertarian on Nov 6, 2008 @ 12:39am

    dear arden,

    how about looking into reducing student fees?

    and, if the CSA doesn't force me to pay student fees how do i go about being reimbursed? i don't want to pay student fees as much, if not more, than i don't want to pay tuition ...oh, but i am forced to pay! otherwise, i'll be de-registered.

  2. Posted by: libertarian_2 on Nov 6, 2008 @ 12:53am

    welcome to the new fascism: rule by concensus!

    in the words of ayn rand, "government by consensus is the cult of compromise. the 'consensus' doctrine is an attempt to translate the brute facts of a mixed economy into an ideological- or anti-ideological- system and to provide them with a semblance of justification... the brute facts of a mixed economy are gang-rule, i.e. a scramble for power by various pressure groups- without any moral or political principle, without any program, direction, purpose, or long-range goal- with the tacit belief in rule by force, as their only common denominator, and unless the trend is changed, a fascist state as the ultimate result."

  3. Posted by: Carlito on Nov 6, 2008 @ 9:33am

    *Yawn* Someone citing Rand...that's as original (and applicable) as someone doing the same with Marx.

    Far left...Far right...same level of obnoxiousness.

  4. Posted by: itshardtopost on Nov 6, 2008 @ 10:39am

    lol Rand & libertarianism.

    libertarian_*: ever played Bioshock?

  5. Posted by: George on Nov 6, 2008 @ 12:57pm

    "Several hundred people.." eh? doesn't look like it to me from the pictures lol

    Law school tuition now??! I thought the whole campaigning against tuition costs were against a student's first undergrad degree tuition costs (BA, BSc). If you think $20,000 is too high for law school, don’t go! Using the whole “education is a fundamental right” I think hardly applies in the case of law school.

  6. Posted by: Arden Hagedorn on Nov 6, 2008 @ 2:36pm

    I think I have made my opinion clear in the CSA ending their fee collection. It would damage or simply cancel well-used and appreciated CSA services.

    If you want to run a referendum question to cancel certain CSA fees that is certainly an option. The outline for doing that is in the CSA bylaw and policies.

  7. Posted by: Don't Make Me Laugh on Nov 6, 2008 @ 3:12pm

    I find it funny how often George negates his own arguments by his lack of a basic understanding of this issue. This is not just about your first undergrad degree, so I can understand YOUR misunderstanding with regards to this demonstration.

    If you search around, sure you might be able to find a couple pictures where it doesn't LOOK like there are several hundred people. Trust me, there was. The support shown by all facets of society and was extremely visible with shop owners lining the streets of downtown to observe this statement being so loudly proclaimed. Many smiles, thumbs up, cheering, and other forms of support were given.

    George, I have read many other posts which it seems you have written. Might I suggest reading them yourself before posting them.

  8. Posted by: Don't Make Me Laugh on Nov 6, 2008 @ 3:13pm

    And how does the CSA collecting student fees come into play? If you want that, sign up to one of those colleges you see on tv in which your degree can be done through correspondence only. Then they can mail you your degree. I'm pretty sure part of the University experience is taking part in activities you feel compelled to join. Many of these events would not happen without a body of dedicated individuals who invest tens of hours into campaigns such as these, and who might I add pay their fees also.

    So to suggest the CSA not collect any fees is almost laughable.

    But we all thank you for your support George, on this truly meaningful and important campaign to Drop Tuition Fees.

  9. Posted by: Chris on Nov 6, 2008 @ 3:18pm

    'Several hundred'? HA!

    You guys had MAYBE 50-70 people there (observed with my own eyes).

    Jesus Scotty boy, you're writing for a student paper..not Pravda.

  10. Posted by: George on Nov 6, 2008 @ 3:43pm

    Re: Don't Make Me Laugh

    I'm glad you have enjoyed reading some of my comments, I do like to inspire!

    My stance on everything is grounded and well thought out, but thank you for the suggestion.

    I’m trying to figure out which one of the CSA executive you are, my guess you are Arden or Cailey posting under the name “Don’t Make Me Laugh.” You two seem to be regulars on the cannon.

  11. Posted by: Arden Hagedorn on Nov 6, 2008 @ 3:47pm

    If you don't believe Scott, perhaps you will take CTV or Rogers News seriously.



  12. Posted by: libertarian_3 on Nov 6, 2008 @ 8:08pm

    listen... carlito, i have my opinions and you have yours. that's what makes democracy work. fortunately, no one will be quoting anything you say.

  13. Posted by: on Nov 6, 2008 @ 9:43pm

    Time is extremely valuable to me and so I rarely post comments on anything, but in this case I had to express myself. For the people who are opposed to Friday's activism; You must admit that you wouldn't be complaining if their protest bore fruit, and so you are a pessimist. For those who participated in Friday's activism; Shame on you for you are an egoist which means you spend all of your time only considering yourself, and the sad part is that this is all about money; if you can put a price on education, then you do not deserve one.

  14. Posted by: Don't Make Me Laugh on Nov 6, 2008 @ 11:24pm


    Unfortunately you are incorrect in your assumption that I am Cailey or Arden. Nor am I even an executive. I do find it amusing though that you believe that must be the case because you seem to think they and myself have all the same views.

    The fact of the matter is that this demonstration was about making education more affordable to all people. It isn't about a specific number, so no, we aren't implying that education has a price. We are saying that the system currently discriminates against those with economic barriers, and we are mobilizing to prevent any more tuition fee hikes which unfairly saddles students with outrageous debt loads upon graduation.

  15. Posted by: libertarian_4 on Nov 7, 2008 @ 12:48am

    re: don't make me laugh

    student fees come into play as a tax. a tax on education. when you tax something people generally buy less of it. so, in this case, taxing education means people will purchase less of it. the group of people affected the most by the student fee tax are the poorer ones.

    university tuition is already heavily subsidized by government. we only pay a fraction of the true cost. student fees, however, aren't subsidized at all. and why should they be? they serve no purpose. they are completely useless in my or anyone else's pursuit of education. so why would the canadian government choose to subsidize them? -they don't.

  16. Posted by: libertarian_5 on Nov 7, 2008 @ 12:49am

    the point of the bus pass was brought up, but how many cars fill our parking lots each day? and how many students who drive their own vehicle to school ride the bus? zero! how many people ride their bikes or walk to school each and every day? and of those people how many would appreciate having their bus pass fee refunded to them? considering they aren't using the bus anyway...!?

    student fees cost us ~$328/semester and on average students attend 8 semesters of school. with the amount of money i pay in student fees i can pay for an entire semester of tuition! 1/8th, or 12.5%, of my university! yet tuition protests are staged instead. my theory to why this is, is because the CSA has to appear to be working.

  17. Posted by: Don't Make Me Laugh on Nov 7, 2008 @ 1:02am

    I'm actually quite surprised that you say that there should be no student fees. University for the majority of students is not a place which they want sterile. The student fees we all pay are used to run many of the events around campus, and also allows many groups to fund activities and bring together students who share similar interests.

    To say there should be no student fees is without merit. Where would all these activities come from? The students pockets? Who would organize? Who would advertise?

    Hmm... maybe a student organization could do all those things, and in the process help those students focus on their studies... Oh wait, The CSA does that.

  18. Posted by: Judith Butler on Nov 7, 2008 @ 1:42am

    Student fees serve many purposes and are very useful in the pursuit of education.

    Need to get to class? If you can afford it, yes you can stay in residence or own a car and pay parking fees. Otherwise, like many other students, you will have to take the bus. The CSA provides a discounted bus pass and also advocates for student needs in the transit system. Riding a bike instead? The Bike Centre can help you help yourself with bike repair. Walking around late at night? SafeWalk will provide company and safety.

    It's hard to get an education if you are not in good health. The dental plan ($118) is refundable. Student Health Services (run by the University, not the CSA), First Aid Response, the Food Bank (refundable $1.47), and Student Health Plan all directly relate to helping you be physically healthy enough to be able to pursue education.

  19. Posted by: Michela Foucault on Nov 7, 2008 @ 2:10am

    "the group of people affected the most by the student fee tax are the poorer ones." Are you saying that the poorer students are the ones who are affected most by student fees because they benefit the most? Or that they are put at a greater disadvantage because they must pay student fees?

    Minority groups are more likely than others to be poor and face many other barriers to education and life. The Aboriginal Student Association ($0.95 for 2007 cohort), Guelph Queer Equality ($0.23), International Student Organization ($0.55), Munford Centre ($0.25), and the Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity ($2.75) and other organizations help the marginalized to overcome the barriers they face to receiving post-secondary education.

    The Canadian Federation of Students ($3.81), Ontario Public Interest Research Group (refundable $5.82), Affordable Housing (refundable $0.95), Ontario Federation of Students ($3.17), CSA ($14.02), and Student Executive Council ($10) and many other organizations and clubs that benefit from student fees provide advocacy initiatives to address a wide variety of problems that students face.

  20. Posted by: George on Nov 7, 2008 @ 9:25am

    Re: Don’t Make Me Laugh & libertarian

    Eliminating student fees is a foolish idea.

    Even though I don’t think student fees should be eliminated, I think there should be emphasize on cutting or freezing student fees by our “student leaders” as much as possible. We expect the same from our elected politicians with taxes and fees in government. Student fees do support essential services and enhance the quality of life for students on campus. I would like the CSA to come forward one year and show where they can make cuts in their own budget and announce that they can work within their current budget and not increase student fees next year. It’s an easy enough challenge.

  21. Posted by: Scott on Nov 7, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    for the people complaining about student fees, why not ask how they got there? students fees are (largely) voted in by referendum, which means they are democratically installed by a majority of voting students. they can also be removed the same way. pretty much the only fees that cannot be added or taken away like this are the ones the university tacks on, and they tend to be the large ones like for the athletics centre. that one alone dwarfs many of the others - most are in the range a dollar or less. it does not make sense for the CSA to campaign against student fees, because then the CSA would be campaigning against the will of the majority of students. get it?

  22. Posted by: libertarian_6 on Nov 7, 2008 @ 6:34pm

    since when do i need a bus pass to attain an education? do i need to support, for example, the guelph queer equality to earn a university degree? the answer: never and no. i don't agree with majority rule. by adhering to majority rule an individual's rights are neglected.

    it used to be students had the option to opt out of the dental plan and receive their money back (emphasis on their). this was a great idea! in addition, they should be able to opt out of the bus pass, paying for the munford center, paying for guelph queer equality, etc. we would all have more money in our pockets and we would be able to donate to these causes IF we wanted to. oh, the freedom to choose! poorer students would also have more money in their pockets! perhaps they wouldn't even be so dependent on the food bank! and poor students who normally wouldn't be able to afford university would have a better chance to do so.

    opting out allows students their individual rights to choose what they pay for.

  23. Posted by: libertarian_7 on Nov 7, 2008 @ 6:41pm

    dear CSA,

    here's a referendum question for you to ponder:

    do the majority of students want free ice-cream and a kazoo on thursdays!?

    it may sound silly but i bet more students would derive greater enjoyment from this than most of the other fees they already pay.

  24. Posted by: Don't Make me Laugh on Nov 8, 2008 @ 1:57am

    Ha ha. Don't make me laugh.

  25. Posted by: fail on Nov 13, 2008 @ 5:07pm

    lol ayn rand

    Speaking as a Man of the Mind, whenever the plebs piss me off, I go on strike! Join me, Libertarians (1 through 7). Let us not give these shallow dross the benefits of our amazing perspectives.

    Once they are overwhelmed by fascist tyranny, they shall come crawling back to us for our enlightened grade 12 politics perspectives

  26. Posted by: Outsider on Nov 15, 2008 @ 10:22am

    In regards to Don't make me laugh's assertion that the rally was well supported because shopkeepers looked on, seems rather flawed because under that logic Ontarian's then love horrific highway collisions because they slow down and look.

    Next time try canvassing these people, don’t assume approval based on their presence

  27. Posted by: Don't Make Me Laugh on Nov 15, 2008 @ 1:57pm

    I appreciate your interest Outsider. I did happen to speak with a number of supporters (shopkeepers, drivers, community members) to name a few. The vast majority were interested in the cause once they realized what it was. Many of them mentioned they had kids either in post-secondary or that they would soon. Many people had common stories and each were effected in different ways.

    I understand that from the basic comments I made before it could have been mistaken that I merely saw them looking on. Again, I appreciate your suggestion of canvassing. It is something we have been doing from the beginning, and is something we will continue to do. I find this forum of discussion fantastic because it allows everyone to add what they feel or believe to the mix.

  28. Posted by: libertarian_8 on Nov 16, 2008 @ 10:32am

    re: don't make me laugh & arden

    if you want to equalize this issue, students should have the option of opting out of any student fee they want.

    we should vote on it in the next election. "would students like the option of opting out of any student fee they want?" should be the question.

    and if individual clubs aren't able to raise enough money, one- that should tell us something! and two- they can fund-raise, collect member fees, accept donations, charge for services, etc. some of that involves having movie nights, selling trips, having guest lecturers, selling clothing, raising their student fee, etc. but if that's what it takes, then so what?! if we can lower student fees through this way by $100-$200 then, speaking as an economist, i think students would appreciate it. one reason why would be because ontario has gone through zero to slightly negative gdp growth for the last couple months. it has in last the few months and its predicted to stay that way for the foreseeable future. basically, that's a recession and it's happening now. how long is it going to last? well, some experts are saying 1 to 2 years.

  29. Posted by: libertarian_9 on Nov 16, 2008 @ 10:33am

    in the meantime, the csa is expanding their budget, spending more, and taxing students in the process.

    now, the recommendations i put forward aren't asking much. it's akin to demanding students pay whether they want to or not, perhaps it's even a bit more fair. add it up and students could be saving $1000+ over the course of a 4 year university career (using present value then even more). that $1000 is a good step towards paying down debt.

    anyway, get that question on the next ballot and let the students vote on it. that's what's in the students best interest.

  30. Posted by: libertarian_10 on Nov 16, 2008 @ 10:45am

    students may pay more per student fee, but the savings on total fees paid would more than make up for it. on the whole i think a net positive.

    also, if you booked a trip (just for example) and sold tickets i wonder about the elasticity of ticket prices. if prices are even the slightest bit inelastic clubs could raise ticket prices. services, too. maybe even our health insurance could be reexamined, but i think that would take some real hero or heroin.

  31. Posted by: quibberoo say hello to pokaroo on Nov 16, 2008 @ 10:50am

    i think what it comes down to is whether you think with your heart or your head.

  32. Posted by: Don't Make Me Laugh on Nov 16, 2008 @ 7:03pm

    I was planning on writing out a detailed rebuttal to your latest comments with regards to student fees. But I can't be bothered because you just seem to rehash the same old concept, which is obviously not what most people think.

    Basically the whole premise to your argument(s) is that you want to fend for yourself. Well I would like to be the first one to welcome you to society.

    As students who pay student fees, we do not use all the services which we pay for. But the great thing about that is that it allows dozens of clubs and activities to be planned. I believe I mentioned it in a previous post, but University is about gaining life experience, getting involved, and getting an education.

    If you want to fend for yourself and prevent other possibly marginalized groups from being able to run activities and enjoy university then by all means go and sign up for your online degree where there is no human contact.

    I am assuming that you prefer zero taxes also?

    P.s. I also am an economist, and as an economist then you must realize that society can not function with everyone choosing their own amount of consumption. Just look at the bison in North America, it's a great example.

  33. Posted by: libertarian_11 on Nov 17, 2008 @ 12:40am

    re: don't make me laugh

    nice try. but i'm still not convinced. at least what your arguments lack in objectivity they make up for in emotion, but that's not necessarily a good thing. and bringing up the north american bison, please! you're reaching. lastly, without wasting too much time deconstructing your argument, no one ever mentioned an online degree. i don't know where this idea came from. i pay tuition to attend lecture. i don't pay student fees to attend lecture.

    here's a great article in which students voted overwhelmingly to end a student fee:


    you should read it if you're not too bothered.

  34. Posted by: libertarian_12 on Nov 17, 2008 @ 12:53am

    re: don't make me laugh

    p.s. as an economist you must be familiar with the concept of saving as well. people can also choose their own amount of saving. people save for education, to purchase their first home, and for retirement. but you didn't mention that did you? (perhaps that was what killed off the dinosaurs)

  35. Posted by: Arden Hagedorn on Nov 17, 2008 @ 3:28pm

    The CSA has not expanded our budget through student fee collection since the General Election in 2007. Last year there were no referendum questions related to fees. In 2007 the referendum question that directly affected the CSA budget was related to the CSA Food Bank. I'm sure the many students who use the CSA Food Bank are grateful for the support.

    As for the student fees collected by the CSA, we only control about nine of those. In addition, because they were passed by referendum, we are LEGALLY bound to spend them on exactly what was voted on. So, for example, the money collected for the bus pass HAS to be spent on the pass. This means that except for our own salaries, the exec cannot spend money on what we personally deem appropriate. Just thought I'd throw that fact in there.

    Thanks for all those who contributed to discussion. This will be my last post.

  36. Posted by: Arden Hagedorn on Nov 17, 2008 @ 3:37pm

    I thought I'd add that the $14.02 collected for the CSA and the $10 collected for the Exec is bound by our bylaws and policies, not a referendum question like that of the bus pass ... and like everything we spend money on, we are carefully audited for those expenditures. Students vote on the auditors report at our AGM and GMM.

    I'm out.

  37. Posted by: Wow. on Nov 17, 2008 @ 4:49pm

    I think I'm going to continue to post about the corruption of the CSA because it collects students fees and continues to somehow "expand" year to year. I'm also going to ignore any post about how student fees are voted on by the student body and continue to accuse the CSA of raising students fees for their own personal interest ... just because I like to see my own ignorant assumptions posted on thecannon.

    Wait ... no, that was complete sarcasm. Take a hint Libertarian. Your posts are getting tired.

  38. Posted by: George on Nov 18, 2008 @ 2:16pm

    You’re nuts, libertarian. Me thinks you’re a tad too caught up in strict economic theories and principals, try to come down from your perch.

    Let’s get realistic. you ask the government to reduce or eliminate tuition, the burden will be shifted to taxpayers. So we will end up paying for it one way or the other.

    I think and would like to see campaigns started that would lobby the government to improve and create better programs that will identify the students in true financial need and that will identify students that fall in the "grey zone". Also, let's rework the repayment options available to students after graduation. Students are being buried in the interest payments.

  39. Posted by: Don't Make Me Laugh on Nov 19, 2008 @ 4:33pm

    I am glad to say that I can agree with you George.

    Great post

  40. Posted by: Libertarian_13 on Nov 21, 2008 @ 5:39am

    re: wow

    awesome job with the ad hominem attack, dude, like totally! unfortunately even arden hagedorn has admitted that some student fees we pay are unfair (i.e. the u.c. fee). i also posted an on-line article about waterloos radio station student fee being voted down (did you read it?). it seems they didn't want to support their campus radio station. based on those, concrete examples i'm suggesting we open some issues and vote on them again. enter the csa.

    re: george

    we've been debating student fees not tuition. even after coming down off my perch your last post made little sense to me. one thing i think even both of us would agree with is that there is a difference between the tuition we pay and student fees.

    re: don't make me laugh

    george doesn't seem to have a clue what we're talking about. it doesn't surprise me that you would agree with him!

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