Students against a corporate Ryerson
By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
A meeting between students at Ryerson Polytechnic University and the school's administration is the third in a series of moves by students at Toronto universities to show their disapproval with corporate Board members.
The meeting, to take place March 30, has been organized between students and the Board of Governors as a pre-budget consultation before the final draft, set to be presented April 27 by the administration.
David Tanner, VP-education of Ryerson Students' Administrative Council, said the final budget meeting was strategically planned by the administration since students will either be out of town or in exams this belief spurred the discussion of an earlier meeting.
Although not organized as a protest, like those which recently took place at the University of Toronto and York University, Tanner said the way the event proceeds depends on whether the council is listened to or not. "If we're cut off, I have a feeling things could go the way it has at other schools."
The protest which took place on March 2 at York University was organized by the York Action Coalition, a group comprised of several students including York Graduate Students' Association President Joel Harden.
The group presented a list of concerns to the university's Board including a call for a tuition freeze, the disclosure of university financial records every year, maintaining the bilingual Glendon College and that corporate Board members step down.
York's protest ended with a group of 35 students surrounding President Lorna Marsden in her car and Harden said if their demands are not met the coalition will continue to protest Board meetings. They are also planning to challenge the president to a debate on these issues.
"The issue of who sits on the Board of Governors may be important to some students but we really need to look at tuition issues," said Sine MacKinnon, senior advisor for York media relations who noted those involved in surrounding the president's car will be dealt with under the code of conduct.
Students at Ryerson have decided not to target specific corporate Board members but do see their position as problematic for deciding tuition fee levels, Tanner said. "Having these members represent the private sector puts us at odds."
The protest of corporate Board members by these schools, all of which are members of the Canadian Federation of Students, is a campaign aim of the student lobby group. "Corporate Canada is taking over our post-secondary education system," said CFS National Chair Brad Lavinge.
The Society of Graduate Students' at Western is also a member of CFS. SOGS VP-communications Kelly Barrowcliffe said although she understands why these protests are happening, students do not need to resort to similar efforts here, even though Western's chancellor Peter Godsoe is the chief executive officer of Scotiabank.