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OPSEU, CEC agreement an unfortunate loss for students

Re: “OPSEU, CEC claim success with arbitration agreement following college strike”

OPSEU, CEC agreement an unfortunate loss for students

It’s been almost two months since the longest college strike in Ontario’s history came to a close. Following the government’s invocation of back-to-work legislation in late November, a binding arbitration agreement between the Ontario Public Services Employees Union (OPSEU) and the College Employer Council (CEC) was signed on December 20. Both parties to the agreement claim that the arbitration was a success. Unfortunately, relishing in their accomplishments overlooks approximately 500,000 college students who may not be willing to say the same.

Over the course of months, these students carried the financial and emotional weight of missed classes. Full tuition refunds were only available to those students who dropped out of school two weeks after the strike ended. Although they can return to classes next year, making students choose between their money and education is unfair. Some may argue that colleges made up for the lost time by extending the semester, but students did not pay for an education that crams five weeks’ worth of material into two.  

For many students, there was no relief after the storm. As reported by the Ottawa Citizen for instance, international student Abby Sun faced the threat of not graduating from Algonquin College in time for a new job, and missing Christmas with her family was an even more pressing concern. No amount of money can alleviate the emotional toll this strike took on students, and contrary to the sentiments of OPSEU or the CEC, they may not be moving forward from the strike with such a positive mindset.

Issues of academic freedom and the wage increase may have been resolved by the college strike, but this resolution came at a cost. While the union and colleges may have gotten what they wanted, students deserved better than becoming collateral damage.

Andrea Tambunan is a first-year student at University College studying Life Sciences.

A U-Pass at U of T has been long overdue

Re: “TTC board votes unanimously in favour of U-Pass”

A U-Pass at U of T has been long overdue

It appears that the once unfathomable idea of a U-Pass coming to U of T may soon be a reality. The U-Pass would provide U of T students with unlimited transit use of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) paid for by a slight increase in tuition fees, allowing students to access much more affordable public transportation than it is currently being provided with. The TTC board voted in favour of the discount transit pass in December and discussed the possibility of its implementation as early as this coming September.

There is an ongoing trend across the country in favour of providing students with subsidized and affordable transportation by including its costs in their tuition fees. In this sense, I am shocked that U of T has only now pursued this type of program. Ontario universities such as Carleton and McMaster have already implemented a U-Pass, while universities like the University of British Columbia have implemented a system almost identical to the proposed U-Pass. In addition, the city of Montréal provides transit passes at a highly reduced cost to university students. Ontario universities have the highest average tuition costs in the country, making it unfortunate that the cost of transportation has not been included in U of T’s ancillary fees until now.

For students going to school in Toronto, it can be almost impossible to get around the city without access to affordable public transportation. While the U-Pass may be particularly good news for commuter students, I think it’s safe to say that all students will be able to benefit from easier access to transportation regardless of where they live. Even living in downtown Toronto, for example, I find myself having to take the TTC at least once a day, and the financial burden of paying over $100 a month for a metropass can be quite heavy. This burden only increases for students living outside the city and who take a variety of public transportation to get to school. Costs associated with long commutes that traverse the boundaries of the TTC can reach up to $25 a day.

Commuters often abide by incredibly dense school schedules in order to cut back on transportation fees, and long hours often prevent commuters from getting involved with extracurriculars or student life. A U-Pass is therefore a useful tool for all students, as it allows them to have more freedom of movement in a city that is so dependent on public transportation.

Yasaman Mohaddes is a third-year student at St. Michael’s College studying Political Science and Sociology.

Alleged assault reported at UTM

Police currently looking for suspect, male, approximately 30 years of age

Alleged assault reported at UTM

An alleged assault occurred at UTM yesterday, January 11, according to Campus Police in a UTM Community Alert.

The suspect is described as a South Asian male, approximately 30 years of age, and standing at around five-foot-ten with a heavy build and long untrimmed beard. He was last seen wearing an olive green jacket, black toque, black jogging pants, and carrying a black duffel bag.

Campus Police ask that anyone who is approached by or sees someone matching this description to call campus police at 905-569-4333 immediately.