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At its first public meeting, Reignite Ryerson said it’s not an anti-RSU group, and will work with the student union to fight rising tuition fees.
The comments came at a Nov. 26 meeting attended by RSU vice-president education Cormac McGee and several members from the RSU’s board of directors. Around 20 students also attended.
Reignite member Vajdaan Tanveer said, “If we didn’t want to work with the RSU, we would not have reached out to you … that’s something that the group can attest to.”
The reconciliation comes three weeks after Reignite’s Facebook post caused tension between the two groups. The post accused McGee of being in support of raising tuition fees.
At last week’s meeting, Tanveer spoke to the importance of working together in order to have their demands met.
“There is a consensus in this room that tuition fees are too high, that university education is becoming more and more inaccessible. How do we come together (to change that),” asked Tanveer.
At the meeting, McGee was questioned about his stance on tuition fees and access to education.
“I’m here because I want to listen to students as your representative and I want to figure out a way that we can … move forward with this,” said McGee when he introduced himself to the members.
“I think (tuition fees) are too high and I think that rising uncontrollably isn’t a good thing,” he said.
McGee was also questioned on what he would do to get results on lowering tuition.
“I’ve seen, I’m going to be blunt, I’ve seen sit-ins and protests on campus for years and nothing has changed. My goals this year is to find a way to make it change,” he said.
Psychology student Reignite member Martin Fox said that the RSU needs to take action.
“If you analyze successful student action in other parts of the country,” Fox said, “it has to be equal parts of both so there has to be a relationship between the student union actively pushing students into organizing and students then going to it.”
A message of working together and the need for action was repeated throughout the meeting.
“We need to bring that conversation back and maybe mobilization and direct action is not what works on this campus maybe it is, but we need to figure out how (to) engage with the university to work with us to go to the province,” said Tanveer.
Earlier that morning, a few Reignite members went to the board of governors meeting where they met with former president Sheldon Levy and handed him a letter with a list of demands.
The letter asked the university to work with the group to tackle educational barriers, include students in policy-making and budgeting and include the voices of marginalized students.
Reignite asked Levy to give copies of the letter to the rest of the board, which includes interim president Mohamed Lachemi.
“We’re hoping that (Lachemi) will be able to hear our demands read the letter (and) understand that students are eager and wanting to work with the administration to find a sustainable solution to accessible education on this campus,” said Awo Abokor, a biology student and Reignite member.
This article was published in the print edition of The Ryersonian on Dec. 2, 2015.