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No National Day of Action this year, but campaigns to lower fees carry on

Jesse Mellott | Fulcrum Staff

LAST YEAR’S CRY to lower tuition fees caused a stir across Canada, but the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) opted not to organize a National Day of Action in 2013.

In February 2012, the CFS, in conjunction with student federations across the country, held events aimed at promoting the notion that “education is a right” by addressing the rising cost of university tuition.

CFS national chairperson Adam Awad said the National Day of Action was not intended to happen every year.

“It’s basically a single day where there is coordinated action across the country, but it’s not an annual thing,” he said.

Last year, Liz Kessler, vp university affairs at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), was primarily responsible for the SFUO’s role in the National Day of Action.

“This year we chose not to do that because we want to explore other strategies,” said Kessler. “We are now focusing on building awareness among students, as well as lobbying efforts, so that in the future we have more capacity to do bigger actions like it.”

Despite the day of action not happening this year, the CFS’s Education is a Right campaign will continue on. According to Awad, tactics change depending on the political reality.

“Last year there were a variety of events, like marches and rallies in the streets to events on campus with local politicians,” he said. “The whole idea is to coordinate actions on a single day to highlight the profile of access to education, or whatever else, depending on what the day of action is about.”

Awad said that all campaigns are decided at national general meetings with the CFS and representatives from local student federations.

Second-year political science and public administration student Vigresh Markandu supports the idea of lower tuition but disagrees with the tactics of engagement that were employed on the National Day of Action last February.

“I am all for lower tuition and access to public education, but I think they can handle the issue in a better way,” he said. “I think the best way is to engage through politics.”

Before February 2012, the last National Day of Action was held in 2007 and highlighted the need for federal and provincial government to put more money into upfront grants rather than student loans.