10, 2000, Gazette)
Snow didnt deter hundreds
of students from turning out for the annual Day of Action.
by Chris Hammond
A crowd of
about 1,000 students gathered in the courtyard of the University
Centre on Feb. 2 for the Canadian Federation of Students
Canada-wide Day of Action, a protest held as part of the organizations
Access 2000 campaign.
from Memorial, Marine Institute, College of the North Atlantic
and various high schools in St. Johns turned out to demonstrate
against the high cost of attending post-secondary institutions
in this province.
They were demanding free tuition and a system of grants instead
of student loans, as well as the general improvement of accessibility
to post-secondary education. Dissatisfaction with government
spending cuts and high debt loads was also expressed.
A major thorn
in the side of protestors was a federal government plan to pay
up to $100 million to banks as compensation for unpaid student
then marched from Memorial to the beat of Aretha Franklins
Respect, making their way to Confederation Building.
The protest continued there with a series of speeches from supporters
of the Day of Action, including Elaine Price, president of the
Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, and Jack Harris,
leader of the provincial NDP.
In his address
to the students, Dr. Noel Roy, president of MUNFA, emphasized
the importance of a world class education system for the province
to achieve a world class economy, and called for increased spending
by the government.
of Education Judy Foote spoke on behalf of government. In response
to the charge that the provincial government is making post-secondary
education a lesser priority, Ms. Foote cited figures of $180
million and $4 million for government spending on post-secondary
education and scholarships, respectively.
agitated by Premier Brian Tobins failure to appear at the
rally (he was attending the premiers meeting in Quebec),
were disinclined to listen as the minister described the high
costs associated with free tuition; her voice was drowned out
by the chanting of, Education is a right! and Grants
culminated with a sit-in in the lobby of the Confederation Building,
then a short occupation of the hallway outside the offices of
the Department of Education.
chairperson of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Students,
described the turnout as phenomenal.
too, according to Ms. North, was the wide range of people who
participated in and supported the Day of Action. With such a
response, she said government cannot help but take notice.
long as we deny government the opportunity to drive wedges between
us, we have a fighting chance - and thats exactly what
we did, and what well continue to do, she said.