Rising tuition has students climbing the walls

Mount Debtverest student debt Ryerson

Two students are seen climbing Mount Debtverest on Gould Street on Sept. 14, 2016. (Kevin John Siazon)

Mount Debtverest was erected on Gould Street this week, drawing attention to the towering rise in tuition costs.

Ryerson students were invited to climb the nearly 8-metre wall, given the moniker “Mount Debtverest,” from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

The wall represented the potential debt students take on by pursuing a post-secondary education — and the challenges they face to pay it back.

“We think a rock climbing wall is a really visual and physical way for people to actually understand the story of debt, and how we have a debt mountain on our hands that we’re trying to overcome as students,” said Rabbia Ashraf, president of Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR). The event was run jointly by CESAR and the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU).

Students prepare to climb Mount Debtverest on Sept. 14, 2016.

Students prepare to climb Mount Debtverest on Sept. 14, 2016. (Robert Mackenzie)

Ontario university tuition is the highest in the country, costing undergraduate students an average of $8,114.

“Some people will be able to pay off their student debt and be totally okay, but some people won’t be able to and that’s not fair,” said Ashraf.

Engineering student, Elyse Stewart, took part in the climbing activities to raise awareness over the high cost of tuition.

Stewart said she believes Ontario students need to be more proactive in challenging the government and university administrations over the continuing rise in tuition.

“We’ve been a lot more passive in Ontario than other provinces where they have rallies. They have walked out, there have been riots over school fees and their aggressive techniques have worked,” said Stewart.

The Mount Debtverest event is in association with the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) Fight the Fees campaign, which calls for the elimination of tuition fees and the interest on existing student loans, as well as converting provincial loans to non-repayable grants.

The CFS is marking Nov. 2 as a National Student Day of Action.

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