UTMSU campaigned for the National Day of Action last week through posters in the Davis building asking UTM students, “What would you do if you didn’t have to pay for tuition?”
UTM students scribbled their responses on the poster, some of which included taking more courses, opening up their own businesses, investing, buying art supplies, buying books so they can learn at their own pace, saving to support their families, and focusing more on studies rather than on their jobs.
“We posed this question to induce thoughts around what students would do with the enormous amounts spent on tuition, to imagine what their lives would actually be like if they could spend their tuition money on something else,” stated UTMSU’s president Nour Alideeb in an email to The Medium.
Alideeb explained that U of T students pay the highest tuition in Canada, and that every year U of T’s Governing Council votes in favour of a three to five percent increase of tuition fees.
Alideeb added that UTMSU wants to call for a fee freeze in addition to asking for new funding models to be presented to the Governing Council for review.
“UTMSU is taking a multifaceted approach to tuition fees,” she said. “We are engaging in opportunities to talk about free education on provincial and federal levels, but we’re also hoping to start a new campaign after the day of action, calling on U of T to Freeze the Fees.”
Alideeb stated that UTMSU knows there are solutions and that free education is possible.
“We know that tuition fees won’t disappear overnight, but we want to actively work towards the reduction and elimination of tuition fees, the removal of interest on existing student loans, and converting loans into non-repayable grants,” she said.
“We are named one of the best universities in the world, right?” she added, “So why stick to the status quo? When we identify problems, we should actively seek solutions.”
Alideeb stated that UTMSU is working with the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students and the Scarborough Campus Students Union to get an Academic Amnesty on the National Day of Action, which allows students “to be excused from class on that day without being penalized,” since they will be granted a right to academic accommodations.
“UTMSU has a one goal for the National Day of Action […]. That one goal is to bring as many students out as possible, because we can do amazing things in numbers,” said Alideeb.
A rally is expected to take place at U of T on the National Day of Action on November 2 with participation from all three U of T campuses.