Sustainable Trent condemns the recent announcements by the Ford government to cut free tuition for low-income students, decrease tuition costs by 10%, and implement the “Student Choice Initiative.” These cuts and “choices” will reduce university budgets as well as funds reaching important organizations doing critical work on campuses across Ontario, negatively impacting student services and opportunities for learning and personal growth.
Sustainable Trent views these announcements as a direct attack on student democracy. Numerous Trent organizations providing essential services and opportunities for students are funded by student levies. These levies, both refundable and non-refundable, have been supported by Trent students through the democratic referendum process. This proposal would override these decisions made by students and would represent a complete disregard for and disrespect of these decisions and the importance of student democracy.
Extracurricular opportunities are an essential part of the university experience; volunteering and learning through these organizations is how many students are able to explore and develop their interests and build transferable skills before entering the workforce. These activities also represent an important social space for students, ensuring that the stress of courses does not become as overwhelming. If these opportunities are reduced, or cut entirely, student experiences will be negatively impacted. Similarly, many of these organizations employ students in work-study positions which will be drastically impacted by both the Student Choice Initiative and the cuts to OSAP. This will both reduce the financial stability of many students and negatively impact the competitiveness of resumes of Ontario-educated students.
Overall, Sustainable Trent believes that these proposed cuts are a form of oppression, negatively impacting vulnerable populations’ opportunities for education and skills development. These cuts cannot be supported. As students dependent on these services and opportunities, we can resist and show the Ford government that we will not sit passively and accept these damaging cuts. We saved the Greenbelt, we are working to save freshwater, and we can save OSAP and student services.