Ontario students disinterested in Occupy Movement

Social movement is one of the many beautiful things about living in Canada, being able to raise awareness, promote change and overall fight injustices. Nevertheless, that does not go without saying that sometimes, for a lack of better words, a “lost cause” is masquerading itself as a “social movement.”

Occupy Bay Street has, for the most part, attracted nationwide attention to a spectrum of problems. Although the media has focused reporting on the protesters diverse views, their opposition and even the perspective of policy makers, there is a gap in the reports on the standpoint of youth and particularly university students. Yet with strong youth involvement, that, in itself explains the legitimate ideologies and competent action that Occupy Bay Street lacks.

With increasing university tuition costs and greater difficulty for university graduates to acquire employment, it seems as if students should be taking advantage of such an opportunity to make their concerns dealt with.

Students all over Montreal set up tents in their city hall to demonstrate against the rising tuition costs and student debt, with the Concordia [University] Student Union supporting the Occupy Montreal movement. However, it is important to note that tuition cost in Quebec is on the low end of Canadian tuition rates with an average of $2,519, while Ontario is the highest with $6,640.

“We’re here [in university] because we’re striving to create something of ourselves. What would be the point in standing outside trying to make our [students] voices heard when we could just be putting that time into something more productive?” said Allie Pope, a psychology student at Wilfrid Laurier University.

“It’s about fighting corporate greed and establishing equality,” Chris Bateman, a first year art’s student, answered when asked what Occupy Bay Street meant to him.

“If students were really that pissed, they’d go to Queen’s Park — not walk around in the Financial District with signs and yell profanities,” explained Eric Xi, a third year economics student at Laurier. The only appeal that Occupy Bay Street serves to students is to be part of a change.

“People like to rebel, cause a scene, and be part of a driving movement for change,” said Val Remier, a fourth-year political science student at Laurier.

Alexandra Peleggi, a second-year criminology student at University of Toronto, said, “There isn’t a buzz being generated by this [ Occupy Bay Street ] throughout campus, but I can understand the appeal it has to students who are looking for any chance they get to bash ‘the system’— look at what happened at the G20 protests. This is barely a reform or movement of any kind, just an opportunity to present issues under a title.”

Despite the crowds of young people partaking in the Occupy movement, among university students, there appears to be a growing disregard for it. “I don’t think there’s going to be any justice done for the student population with Occupy Bay Street, we need to find an alternative, proper, way to present our problems,” concluded Peleggi.

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