We are writing this as residents of George Street, in Toronto’s Downtown East End, specifically the houses located at 311 and 303 George. 311 is next door to O'Neill House, which is itself next to Seaton House. 311 George is also located at the beginning of a stretch of abandoned buildings, which run down the east side of the street leading up to an alleyway adjacent to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) apartment building at 291 George; 303 George is more-or-less in the middle of this span of unused buildings. 311 George has been a collective house for three years and several of its current tenants have lived there for over 18 months, whereas 303 has been a collective for 14 months. We consider George Street our home, and our neighbours, whether housed or homeless, our fellow community members.
By Edward Wong
Tuition fees are certainly a barrier to the accessibility of education. However, an issue not often discussed is the living expenses of students. As with tuition, students are forced to take out loans or seek part-time employment. The debt load has tremendous financial implications after graduation and can be linked to drop out rates. According to the Canadian Federation of Students, insufficient funds and the need to seek employment is the number one reason for the interruption of studies for both university and college students.
Some have questioned the relation between residence rental fee increases and access to education, but if we take into consideration the social context it is clear that there is a direct connection.
One suggestion brought up was that residence housing is a privilege, not a right, and therefore it is unreasonable to demand that it should be affordable. Assuming this argument is correct, and it isn't, we must ask the question about privilege for who? If residence living does add to the educational experience, why should it only be open to the upper class? In essence, this assumption suggests that our education system should be two-tiered, with 'privileges' provided to the rich, while the poorer students are left behind.
University of Toronto Students Occupy President's Office
Police violence used to force students out
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2008 – Toronto
March 20, 2008 thirty-five University of Toronto students occupied Simcoe Hall, the home of the President's Office, to protest a 20% fee increase. The nonviolent sit-in was accompanied with a peaceful rally outside the building—until the police began brutalizing those inside. This was captured by multiple video cameras.