UTMSU President Felipe Nagata recently became the newly elected Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario (CFS-O). Nagata’s election comes in the wake of the Ontario government announcing major changes to post-secondary funding.
“It’s a scary time to be a student in Ontario,” Nagata told The Medium over email correspondence.
“Unfortunately, the provincial government has made significant changes that will negatively affect students across Ontario,” said Nagata, referring to several new policies imposed by the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, including a guaranteed four per cent cut to institutional funding and the reduction of non-repayable grants. He worries that these changes could make a university degree unrealistic for low-income students. “I believe education is a right,” Nagata stated. “Post-secondary education should not only be accessible to those who can afford it.”
Nagata says he plans on reaching out to student groups and unions across the province to create an action plan around education and mobilization. “Their involvement can be with petition collection, direct action, outreach, canvassing and so much more,” he says.
Nagata also hopes more UTM students will get involved, and encourages anyone interested to visit the UTMSU office to find out how they can help.
Despite the challenges he faces, Nagata remains optimistic about his new position. “I decided, not very long ago, that I wanted to continue my time helping people across the globe to access post-secondary education, regardless of their income, ability or identity,” he stated. “I hope to unite student voices across the province and take this opportunity to educate people on what a post-secondary education could actually be: free and accessible for all.”
Negata will start his transition as CFS-O chairperson in May, and will officially begin the position on June 1, 2019.