For over a month, there has been a serious mobilization of students at the University of Toronto campus against a series of fee increases. On March 20th, campus police violently broke up a peaceful sit-in at Simcoe Hall, injuring several students. A rally on the 25th attracted well over 100 students who protested against the fee increase and also the cowardly act of repression used against student dissent by the University administration.
In the weeks following, campus police began shadowing student organizers while plainclothes officers infiltrated student meetings. This has now culminated in several students, including Fightback supporters, being threatened with discipline under the Student Code of Conduct – which could potentially lead to expulsion.
On April 10th, the UofT Governing Council, which has only token student representation, held its final vote to increase tuition and other fees as high as 23%. When the student with speaking rights in the meeting stood to voice their opposition to the fees, the chair shut down the meeting and relocated it in secret to another building so that the vote could be held in absolute secrecy.
After years of quiet, peaceful and frankly ineffective lobbying on the part of student politicians, finally Ontario students are starting to take more effective and militant actions. The university administration recognises the threat of rank-and-file student mobilization and is attempting to crush it under the weight of repression before it takes off. We cannot let this happen.
For years the ruling class in society has been attempting to retake the hard won gains of the labour movement, which have been achieved over the past fifty years, in order to increase the amount of profit it can extract from society. One the capitalists’ main target is the right to an affordable education for working class youth. Tuition and other fees have been steadily rising for years, and have had the effect of decimating the working class population on campuses. Those that remain are overburdened with debt from high interest student loans and the extra workload of having to hold down part-time jobs to alleviate the grinding poverty.
And now, faced with and active and organized movement of the students against this unjust state of affairs, the University administration has resorted with anti-democratic manoeuvring and police repression.
Fightback supports the students and condemns the administration’s methods in the strongest possible terms. We are calling on our readers, allies and supporters to send letters of condemnation to the President of the University of Toronto, David Naylor, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, with an emphasis on the following:
(i) The constant marginalization of student voices, from ordering campus police to aggressively remove peaceful protesters on March 20, to walking away from the voices of students speaking against fee increases on April 10.
(ii) The public lobbying Naylor and his administration have engaged in to encourage the provincial government to deregulate fees.
(iii) The intimidation and surveillance faced by student organizers on campus from the campus police in the wake of the March 20 sit-in.
(iv) The threat of investigation of students under the Code of Student Conduct in order to silence dissent and protest on campus.
Also please send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org and cc your messages to email@example.com. For more info please visit www.fightfees.ca.
The way forward is through the unity of the students with the working class inside and outside the university. Only through pooling our strength and organizing together can we overcome not just the symptoms of repression and persecution, but the disease of capitalism itself. Free education now!
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