March 10, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 83  

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York law students protest

By Katy Pollock
Gazette Staff

A tuition fee protest by Osgoode Hall law students on Monday led many York University law students to “Quit School for a Day.” The protest was organized by the university’s student caucus with assistance from the Osgoode student body.

The protest was organized around the faculty council meeting at which Osgoode’s dean, Patrick Monahan, formally announced plans to raise tuition to $15,000 by the 2007/08 school year, explained Dorion Persaud, a spokesperson for Osgoode Law Activists, adding fees are currently $12,000, up from just $2,935 in 1996.

Charn Gill, a media contact for the protest organizers, explained that while many students were choosing to participate by staying home, a large group were active on campus. “Students that are here [were] picketing,” he said. “We [played] some obstacle-course type of games that represent the challenges many students face in getting to law school.”

Monahan, in a statement, explained the need to balance the school’s budget. “We explored the possibility of increasing the first-year class size versus increasing tuition in order to obtain more funding. I came to the conclusion that increasing the size of the LLB class would damage our reputation, and would be short-sighted and ultimately counter-productive, since it would signal that we were prepared to lower our admission standards. Instead I am recommending to the Vice President Academic that we increase tuition.

“Even with the tuition increases that I have proposed, which will not come into effect until the 2006-8 period, the fees will still be $1,000 less than that of our closest competitors,” Monahan said.

“We are trying to send a clear message that students don’t support this or any of the [tuition] increases we’ve had here in Ontario,” said Joel Duff, Ontario Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students. “We want to say it’s time to work with the government to come up with real concrete solutions.”

“We have received tremendous support so far,” Persaud said. “Support from the student body and the faculty as well.” Most faculty members chose to either cancel their classes for the day or at least videotape them so protesting students would not miss out on lectures, he explained.

According to Duff, a meeting of the faculty council at York voted 31-3 against Monahan’s proposal to increase tuition, adding that although the vote is not binding in any way, it does send a strong message of solidarity with the student protest.



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