Archive | November, 2012

Glen Murray’s leadership bid: a Dont Pay A Cent Event

7 Nov

Image

“I want ten dollar deductible
I want twenty dollar notes
I want thirty thousand liability” that’s all she wrote

I got me a car And I’m headed on down the road No money down I don’t have to worry About that broken down, ragged Ford

CHUCK BERRY – NO MONEY DOWN

Oh…..Glen.

I’ve written to you before, in this fake, diary-esque style that never actually gets sent to you by me (though I hope you do come across my advice). But, after your leadership announcement for the Ontario Liberal Party last Sunday, I thought I’d help you out a little on your higher education promise.

Seems as if you didn’t learn enough in your short stint as the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

I just read your policy for “no money down” higher education and I thought, for the good of humanity, I need to intervene.

There are a few secrets to plagiarizing well that you should be aware of.

First, if you’re going to plagiarize, do it for the right reasons. Margaret Wente teaches us that plagiarism helps her look smarter than she perhaps is. While looking smarter, she also gets to collect a pay cheque (something that many people my age would sell out our best friend for), and she has a high profile soapbox. Pretty good returns for just a little plagiarism.

Unlike Wente, your copied slogan doesn’t bring in too many advantages. Advertising a plan called “no money down” for higher education makes you sound like a TV announcer. This isn’t going to win you many fans.

Second, if you’re going to plagiarize, don’t take one of the most known slogans out there for sketchy, try-to-exploit-the-poor schemes. It’s like Hamilton saying “It’s worth the drive to…Hamilton” or the Royal Bank saying “why buy a mattress anywhere else?”

People will very quickly catch on that you’ve taken the name of your vision for higher education from any number of mortgage or car companies.

You can cancel all plans now for calling your back-to-school celebration the “don’t pay a cent event.”

And finally, if you’re going to plagiarize the name of a policy, do it for a sector like transportation or for lower taxes. Don’t do it for higher education, where plagiarism means something. Students fail for that. It’s the worst crime you can commit in the academy.

The irony of you choosing slogan from The Brick for your higher education policy is so multi-layered that it’s possible you will cause brain explosions for the people who try to grapple with your logic. I urge my academic friends to back away from their computer if they feel like a brain explosion may be imminent.

However, there are a small group of your fans who have said in the past that I’m too hard on you. And so, I would like to praise you for your small shred of honesty on this policy. At least implicit in the “no money down” promise is the promise that money will definitely be expected later. That’s at least a thousand times more clear than your 30-off doublespeak policy.

Take my advice. Change the name of your policy. And, while you’re at it, change the policy entirely. Recognize that bleeding more money from students to boost bank profits is terrible public policy, even for the Liberal Party. Students need “no money” higher education, not just “no money down.”

And, if that’s not enough to convince you, perhaps you’ll listen to Google.

TOP GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR “NO MONEY DOWN”

No money down mortgages (care of CanEquity Mortgage Canada)
“Why no money down mortgages can work” –Moneyville.ca
No money down mortgage, 100% financing
Make millions with No money down
No money down mortgages | Syndicate mortgages
No money down mortgages
Buy a home with No money down – BetterMortgages.ca
NO MONEY DOWN PROGRAM (mortgages)
“High Incident” No Money Down (TV episode 1997, IMDB)
No Money Down – Wikipédia
Legendary Lou Reed – Wikipedia
The truth about the “No money down” mortages
No money down – Kim Currie & Associates
Hotlist of zero down properties
The NO MONEY DOWN trap
How to buy a company for no money down (sort of) – Globe and Mail
No money down – Youtube
You can buy a house with no money down – Moneyville.ca
No money down real estate in Canada
How to buy a home with absolutely no money down
Information for first time home owners in British Columbia
Taking full advantage of no money down financing offers – Mycar.ca
No money down mortgage 100% financiang | MII Mortgage Group
CBC Marketplace: ‘No money down’
No money down seminar LIVE – World Wealth Builders
After School Session – Wikipedia
No money down mortgage in Canada? – Mortgage Showdown
No money down mortgage – Hants Financial
How to buy a home with little or no money down
The Publisher’s Page: No money down, rent to own
Should you go with No money down and pay off other debt – mycar.ca
No money down O.A.C – Metrotown Mitsubishi
—-> No money down? No, Money down! –The Eyeopener [about Murray’s policy]

Clearly, the students have won at framing the debate. Ontario’s record-high tuition fees are leading to mortgage-sized debt loads.

Unfortunately, a mortgage-like quick fix is not going to fix anything. It will further entrench economic disparity, under and unemployment among youth, strain mental health and ensure that higher education remains the domain of the wealthy.

Is that the legacy you want?

Advertisements

General Assemblies, student movements and Québec’s cégeps

6 Nov

Half of the members’ meeting at Ryerson Students’ Union, Nov, 2010 (courtesy: The Eyeopener)

Having watched most of the Québec student protests from Ontario, I’ve obviously spent hours thinking about the differences between the Québec student movement and the Ontario student movement. And I’ve come up with a few theories that I hope to write into something…someday.

Luckily, others have similar questions as I do. Doug Nesbitt, PhD student at Queen’s and the local PSAC president, has done some thinking on this. And so, because I’ve spent most of my day dealing with the bureaucracy of the state in French and my brain is fried, I’m sharing with you what he’s posted at his blog. Nothing I write next will be as good as his analysis…

Doug focuses on the role of General Assemblies and how they have helped to build Québec’s movement into what it is today. I agree that GAs have been critical to politicizing generations of students. They have helped to circumvent conservative student leadership and maintain the necessary accountability of those students who “float to the top” of a formal students’ union’s executive.

But I can’t believe that it’s *just* General Assemblies. While GAs politicize students who attend them, what is the factor getting students in the door in the first place?

At Ryerson, our General Meetings would normally reach 150 students while more contentious meetings may have topped out at 400. At McMaster University last year, thanks to a heavy advertising campaign and the promise of the MOST AMAZING FROSH WEEK EVAAARRRR more than 600 students attended the MSU GA to vote in favour of an ancillary fee hike. It’s hard to explain how this is possible if we look only at the GA model and how it has fueled generations of activists in Québec. These Ontario examples don’t make sense.

I think that the most significant reason for the differences in the student movements in Ontario and Québec isn’t just the decision-making structure, it’s the role of cégeps.

During my time in the student movement, I always found graduate/second degree/college transfer students easier to organize. They came to their new educational tier with baggage: debt from a previous degree/diploma/certificate, experience (sometimes negative) from another degree (and even school) and maturity that grew out of their first round of post-secondary education. They spent more time in the system and were more ready to challenge what they had witnessed in their first educational experiences as being unjust, but not necessarily having the time, opportunity or willingness to act. I found my work to explain the effects of debt, tuition fees, large classes etc. was always easier with these students as they had an experience that we could link the facts to.

Imagine if Ontario’s colleges were full of students who had already done a few years at college? Imagine every student walked into a university already having experienced the soul-crushing bureaucracy of higher education? The context for organizing would be entirely different.

There’s a reason why cégep students lead the strikes in Québec. The dangerous combination of free higher education, a radicalizing movement and participatory democracy blew up into an amazing student strike. And every university student involved in the strike had been introduced to the student movement either directly or indirectly through their time at cégep.

This has to be said: identifying this difference isn’t to say that it is impossible for Ontario students to organize provincially in the way Québec students have. I think it’s critical that if Ontario students are going to figure out how best to carve out their own movement, the right analyses of the differences (and similarities) are necessary to lead to appropriate organizing techniques.

I have a lot more to say about this…and it’s later than I had intended to be up (and I wrote more than I intended to write) but I will flesh this out. I’m interested in feedback too, as always, but especially on this. The history of the student movement (or movements) hasn’t been told well enough…and who better to tell it than those of us who’ve been there.