Tuesday, May 06, 2008



Last March 20 students at the University of Toronto held a peaceful sit-in to protest rising tuition fees. The administration of the University responded by calling the police and having the students forcibly evicted. Since then criminal charges have been laid against 14 of the students involved. These are now known as the "Fight Fees 14", and their case has brought about a groundswell of support for their right to peaceful protest and for their cause. There is a website set up for their solidarity campaign. Now the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) has joined this campaign, pointing out that the University's action affect not only students but workers at the institution as well. The following is CUPE's appeal through the cupeaction network.



Fourteen students and workers have been charged in connection with a peaceful sit-in at the University of Toronto over rising tuition fees and they need our help.

Sign the petition:

The "Fight Fees 14" have been charged with extremely serious offences, including forcible confinement. The university administration is also contemplating expelling 12 students.

Meanwhile, the campus community - including many members of CUPE is subjected to a campaign of intimidation by the U of T’s administration and police.

The university itself is publicly lobbying to deregulate tuition fees.

The U of T Fight Fees 14 have asked CUPE for help fighting the disciplinary proceedings and criminal charges.

Please take a moment to sign the petition:


Want to know more about what this is all about? Here's an excellent article from the platformist Linchpin/Common Cause site about the case....

Outrage mounts over the arrest of 14 students
Outrage is mounting over the arrest of 14 students who are facing criminal charges for allegedly participating in a peaceful sit-in at the University of Toronto on March 20, 2008. The sit-in, held to protest rising fees, ended when police acting on the orders of senior UofT administrators forcefully removed demonstrators. Students and organizers are being subjected to a campaign of intimidation by the UofT administration, who sought a criminal investigation of the matter and encouraged Toronto Police to arrest 14 individuals and have pressed charges against them. After turning themselves in last week, the students have been released on strict bail conditions, which ban them from associating with one another outside of courts and classes, thereby prohibiting their freedom to organize on campus. In addition, UofT staff, students and an alumnus have been completely banned from UofT property. UofT is attempting to further repress student organizing on campus by investigating at least 13 students under the Code of Student Conduct.

Outrage at the arrests and disciplinary actions by UofT administration has been expressed by a growing number of professors and staff at the University of Toronto. "I am urging the university administration to exercise restraint in these matters and avoid what appears to be a crackdown on political activity and freedom of expression at the university," stated George Sefa Dei, a professor in Sociology and Equity Studies at OISE, University of Toronto.
Rather than addressing the issues of accessibility to education, the UofT administration has resorted to tactics of intimidation and repression,including police surveillance, as a means of cracking down against all dissent on campus. Undeterred, students have continued to organize against increasingly inaccessible tuition, Sheila Hewlett, an organizer with the Committee for Just Education and an elected member of the Arts and Sciences Student Union notes, "We have to look at who is excluded when these unchecked fee increases compound and realize that education is increasingly not accessible to many. The student experience is at best one of debt servitude; at worst, education is completely unavailable to more and more people."

The Committee for Just Education, which includes the students charged by police, have outlined the following demands:
i) Equal access to education through the elimination of all fees
ii) That the U of T administration and Toronto Police immediately drop all proceedings against students and organizers and stop the policing of dissent on campus
iii) Student, worker, and faculty parity on University decision-making bodies, including the Governing Council

In the face of mounting debts, drastic increases in tuition and ancillary fees and a hostile environment towards student organizing on campus, a burgeoning student movement is demanding access to education for all people.Allies and supporters of the students charged are calling on both the Attorney General Chris Bentley and UofT President David Naylor to drop all charges and disciplinary proceedings.
We are calling on all community allies and support groups to show their solidarity with the 14 accused in any way they can. Community members are expressing their outrage at the growing cost of education, and at the use of intimidation and force against students who organize for accessible education at the University of Toronto.

It is critical for the university community and supporters across the country to publicly condemn and reverse attacks on students’ right to organize. We are calling on all community members, community groups, unions, and student organizations to:
a) Please sign the petition to drop criminal charges and university sanctions against students and organizers--Free The Fight Fees Fourteen!
Please sign the petition to protest against the suppression of dissent, and to express your opposition to fee hikes. Collect signatures from members of your school, work, and community (please mail all petitions to OPIRG Toronto by May 15th).
b) Sign our letter (found at http://fightfees.ca/allies/ ) or write your own letter to the President of the University of Toronto, David Naylor, at david.naylor@utoronto.ca (please CC all emails to fightfees@gmail.com) or phone David Naylor at 416-978-2121 with an emphasis on the following:
(i) Drop all charges against UofT students, staff and alumni.
(ii) Remove all bail restrictions and conditions for all 14 accused
(iii) End the policing of dissent and protest on campus. In the wake of the March 20 sit-in, at least 13 students are also being investigated under the Code of Student Conduct and student organizers have faced intimidation and surveillance from the campus police. More recently, the University has pressed charges against 14 students and organizers.
c) Send a statement of solidarity or a message of support to the Committee for Just Education at fightfees@gmail.com and issue a public statement from yourself and/or your organization expressing solidarity with the 14 students and organizers who have been charged by UofT.
Approach other students, faculty, staff, and workers at the University of Toronto or on other campuses to write letters of support (these statements will be kindly needed by May 15th).
d) Donate funds and/or materials: Please donate to the costs of legal proceedings, which all 14 individuals have to incur. Please let organizers know if you are able to provide other materials/services (ie. photocopying facilities, helping to collect signatures on petitions, etc).
e) Fundraise with your organization: Take our fundraising proposal to your organization and/or community and ask them to provide materials and/or funds for the 14 accused. (found at http://fightfees.ca/allies/ and will need to be kindly returned to OPIRG Toronto by May 15th).

***For further information: Sheila Hewlett: (416) 409-3873;
Deena Dadachanji: (647) 887-8256;
563 Spadina Ave,
Room 101
North Borden Building
Toronto, ON
M5S 2J7

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