Volume 95, Issue 71

Thursday, February 7, 2002
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Day of Action fights for freeze

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

Day of Action fights for freeze

Yesterday's Day of Action protest in London drew an estimated crowd of 400 people to the Concrete Beach. In a well-organized, orderly manner, the group then marched downtown to the offices of Dianne Cunningham, Ontario's Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, where they met other groups from local secondary schools and Fanshawe College.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, thousands of protesters assembled at Queen's Park where so many crucial education policies have been formulated and enacted in order to voice their concerns.

The diversity of those involved indicates the problem of increased tuition rates is a concern shared by all citizens, no matter their race, colour or creed. As an added bonus, the noticeable presence and support of professors bolstered the agenda of the protesting students.

The visibility gained, especially in London, by students rallying and marching will also, we should hope, bring much-needed attention to a national concern.

But the protest also caught the attention of passersby on both the Concrete Beach and the city streets along the march's route. This helped to increase the number of protesters, but it also put the protest on people's minds and in people's conversations, even if they did not join in.

The national media may have now grown tired of the "student protest" story, but that does not diminish the importance of this event, nor this cause.

Note must also be taken of those who did not protest visibly to support this demonstration. Prior to the protest, students were supporting the cause by signing petitions or helping organize rallies.

Still, on a campus of 26,000, a turnout of 400 means the vast majority of students didn't care for the cause, the method – or simply, didn't care at all.

But, rather than discounting the objectors or the apathetic, we must consider the role awareness and education play in this protest.

In order for students to care, they must understand the issues and the effects. And, as much as it is an individual's responsibility to educate themselves, it is the responsibility of movement to make the masses aware of the problem.

Apathy is not inherent to the individual, or the university. It is learned and can be corrected.

Demonstrators must also keep in mind those outside the "protest demographic." The average citizen must be reached and convinced if anything is to change, especially if the average citizen may one day send their child to a post-secondary institution.

Yesterday's Day of Action should be applauded as both respectful and successful. It brought attention to an important issue without the use of vandalism or violence.

Still, much work lies ahead for this movement. Accomplishments and gains must be repeated over and over again before any tangible victories can be declared.

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Copyright The Gazette 2002