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Student day of action

Jesse McLaren

February 13, 2012

On February 1, students across the country took to the streets for a pan-Canadian day of action, organized by the Canadian Federation of Students.

In Toronto, thousands of students from multiple campuses converged at the University of Toronto, marched through downtown and rallied at Queen’s Park. Students are facing skyrocketing tuition fees and massive levels of debt. On top of chronic education cutbacks and underfunding, students are being made to pay for the economic crisis they did not create.

Students also made links with other issues, chanting and face-painting “drop fees, not bombs.” The money for accessible education exists, but it’s being wasted on fighter jets, tar sands, prisons and tax breaks for the 1%.

The labour movement supported the day of action, including members of CUPE, Steelworkers, Toronto District Labour Council and the Ontario Federation of Labour. Solidarity is reciprocal. More than 4,000 teaching assistants, graduate-student instructors, lab demonstrators, invigilators and writing instructors at the University of Toronto (represented by CUPE 3902) unanimously voted to set a strike deadline of February 24, if the administration fails to offer them a reasonable contract.

They are asking for smaller class sizes, adequate compensation and better funding—in other words, they are trying to improve education.

There is already solidarity growing for CUPE 3902, from a campus organizing meeting drawing the links between students, TAs and food service workers, to an undergraduate-led campaign by OPIRG. As their video states, “CUPE 3902’s proposals will improve the quality of education at UofT. What’s good for CUPE 3902 members is good for undergraduate students.” The February 1 day of action showed the strength and solidarity of the 99% on campus, which will be crucial in the weeks and months ahead to win accessible, high quality public education.

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