We’ve been watching closely since Doug Ford became premier a year ago. It’s like watching an over dramatic Netflix series, each episode filled with unexpected twists and turns. But now the plot is becoming predictable.
Since Ford became premier, he has gone into every sector of student life and wreaked havoc.
This series has left students across the education system experiencing deep uncertainty. Ford has touched almost everything imaginable: tuition, transit, course offerings, campus life, publications and radio stations.
Here are ways in which the Ford government is impacting the student experience.
Before Ford came into power, families earning less than $50,000 annually received free tuition. That is no longer available.
Those students for whom a free education was the only way to access a higher education system are now left out. Some students suggest they may not be attending school this September.
Ford blinded students with a 10 per cent tuition cut, as an attractive offer. But in universities across Ontario, administrations are making up for that loss of revenue by letting go of staff and services.
Cuts mean fewer contract lecturers who provide a vital connection to the industries in which students hope to be employed. Cuts mean fewer course offerings and fewer resources at the departmental levels.
A Less Enriching Campus Experience
Ford has also promised more cuts by offering opt-out options for ancillary fees, which support key campus groups like the independent paper, the Eyeopener and CJRU, its radio station (on which this publication’s podcasts and daily morning updates air).
The new opt-out option for ancillary fees means students can decline to pay equity services provided by the Ryerson Students’ Union, such as the Good Food Centre and the Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line.
These are the kinds of things that many students believe enhance the value of a university education.
No matter what happens, it’s certain that this upcoming term will see a massive shift in student life at Ryerson.
Students coming back to school in the fall will experience a different Ryerson.
Those walking through Gould Street for the first time will be entering a completely different landscape, and experiencing the effects of tuition cuts academically and socially.
From our perspective one of the biggest losses will be the impact on campus media. Without a range of platforms for students to express themselves and institutions to hold the university to account, those who attend here will be less engaged as students, and eventually, as citizens.
Luckily every series comes to an end and most villains never end up getting what they want.
But, if the Ford government chooses to come down so hard on universities and students, the one place to register our voices will be on election day.
Unfortunately we’ll have to wait until June 2, 2022.