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Interview with Anne-Marie Roy, VP Communications of Student Federation University of Ottawa. University of Ottawa students are barricading the administration offices, demanding that this year's tuition increase be canceled. They have been joined by students from Gatineau who have been part of the unlimited student general strike.
Update: The Occupation ended about 12:20. Iain Brannigan said "We shut down work for the day, so we had a minor victory. The UOttawa president stopped by the student union office to talk about creating a commitee for budget consultations with students on it too. And the general consensus of the group was to leave, the action had started at 7am so by 12:20 people were pretty tired and stoked we managed to shut down work for the day."
Anne-Marie: I am at Tabaret hall which is the pavilion where the administration offices are currently being barricaded. We are there in protest of the recent tuition fee increase that was adopted at the last board of governors meeting …. The university of Ottawa is yet to approve the budget, it is scheduled to be approved on Monday May 28th and this is in hoping they will reverse their decision to increase tuition fees and keep that in mind while conceiving the budget for the university
TMC: And how much was tuition going to be raised by?
Anne-Marie: Overall 5%, for certain programs, if they are first year students or returning students if varies between 4 and 8 percent, but overall average is 5%
TMC: will that be reflected in any decrease in administrator salaries
Anne-Marie: like I said we don’t have the budget yet so I am not sure if that ….. none the less, increasing tuition fees reflects priorities in the budget there are definitely areas where the university of Ottawa could save a couple dollars and not need this tuition fee increase
TMC: I know that the McGuinty government has mandated a 5% tuition fee increase per year as if it is just normal,
Anne-Marie: It is not actually mandated, the province of Ontario usually does the framework and universities choose weather or not they are going to be increasing their tuition fees and by how much
TMC: across the board it is pretty standard that Ontario Universities raise their tuition by about 5% per year
Anne Marie: That’s definitely true, most universities decide to increase their fees, part of that is due to the fact that the province of Ontario is not prioritizing post-secondary education and therefore not financing our universities properly
TMC: what about the promise of a 30% reduction in tuition that turned out to be a rebate
Anne-Marie; as I student I was very very critical of this, only about a third of students in Ontario are going to have access to this grant, many of the students who could use help are going to be excluded from this, I’m thinking for instance all graduate students, part time students, students who are in professional programs…
TMC: how many people are barricading with you?
Anne-Marie: 30 and growing, we’ve got several entrances on the 2nd floor and we are barricading them and getting more support from nearby students as the day goes on
TMC: Ottawa is on the border with Quebec where there is a large student movement going on right now, can you talk about if this is a spill over or a sign of the movement spreading?
Anne-Marie: students have been mobilizing across the country to have a more affordable post secondary education for quite some time now, this isn’t new, evidently the Quebec student movement has been very inspiring because there is so much media coverage, post secondary education is a hot topic in the media, and it is giving us a bit of momentum, evidently the success of Quebec students is very important and crucial to students in Ontario also but this is nothing new, it is not the first protest we’ve had here in the University of Ottawa or in Ontario,
TMC: what is your plans by nightfall, is this a one day occupation or something sustained?
Anne-Marie: ah, this is for today, as far as what the plan is, I’m not sure if the organizers are necessarily going to want to come back tomorrow, but for right now we’re scheduled for today and we’ll stay here as long as we can .