Being above the law
By Sara Marett
No charges have been laid after security removed students from the ceiling of Jorgenson Hall at Ryerson Polytechnical University after Tuesday's rally against tuition increases by Toronto area university students.
Approximately 300 students from the University of Toronto, Ryerson, Hamilton's McMaster University and York University, participated in the march to protest the provincial government's decision to allow universities to raise tuition by an average of 10 per cent for the 1997-98 schoolyear.
After failing to break into Ryerson president Claude Lajuenesse's office with a credit card, about 30 students proceeded to the 12th floor of the building to the offices of the vice-presidents in an attempt to occupy them. When they could not get through a locked door, they attempted to crawl through the ceiling tiles of the building.
Keith Christie, security supervisor at Ryerson, explained there were four Ryerson security members in the building when the event occurred. "Nobody was trying to antagonize us," he said. "They were fairly peaceful and realized they didn't have enough people to take a real stand."
Const. Jay Frosh said things were under control when Metro police arrived at the building, adding there was some damage to the walls.
Victoria Bowman, president of Ryerson's Student Union, explained the incident occurred after office hours when most members of the administration were not in the building. "They know about what happened and seem to be fine about it. They know our tactics [as Ryerson] students are different because of talks we have had with them," she said, adding most of the students who attempted to occupy the offices were U of T and McMaster students.
"We will only stage a sit-in if we decide to, when we are damn good and ready," Bowman said. "Right now we don't see it as the most effective means of protesting and our administration knows this is our stance."
Ryerson's administration refused to comment on the incident.
Vicky Smallman, chair of the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario, said the incident was not part of the rally. "The rally was over when it happened and we cannot be responsible for things people do after the event is over.
"It was the decision of the individual students to engage in this action. I think it was inspired by the enthusiasm of the rally and was just as peaceful," she said.