By: Daniel Cress
The definition of a student should not be based on age.
It’s a view held by the Algonquin College Students’ Association and is beginning to resonate with students around campus.
Taking measures to avoid human rights complaint court proceedings with the city, the SA has launched a campaign to act as a rallying point for students getting involved and making their voices heard regarding the elimination of student bus passes.
“We’d like to avoid, if at all possible going to court, but it’s a last resort and we are willing to go there if it’s necessary,” said SA Vice-President Jennifer Courville. “If [the city] is not willing to budge, we believe it’s important not only to our students, but to set an example for our city, that it’s not acceptable to discriminate against students. We believe a student is a student.”
The “Keep Fares Fair” campaign urges students to call the city’s 311 number to speak with their councillor, write letters to OC Transpo and the city, and tweet their frustrations using the hashtag FairFares.
“We want students to be aware of what’s going on, voice their opinion and see that through all this we’re behind them supporting them,” said Courville.
The campaign is largely visible throughout the Woodroffe campus with posters bearing the slogan ‘age does not define a student’ plastering the walls and hallways.
The word is getting out to students who are disgruntled with the lack of affordable transit options.
“We pay a lot for tuition and now even more for bus passes,” said international student Felip Luzzardo, a second-year in the hospitality management program. “I think it’s discrimination; Canada isn’t supposed to be like this. I have a classmate who is 40, but he is still a student like the rest of us.”
Others are also getting behind the SA efforts.
“As a 24-year-old student I am for the SA’s actions because I want the same benefits as those 19 and under. [Students] should all be treated equally and action needs to be taken to make the financial burden fair,” said business marketing student Ross Tyrie.
That view is shared by James Bacile, a second-year business administration student. “If you’re a student, because you’re going to school you should get the discount, your age shouldn’t matter.”
Talks with the city about the situation are ongoing but the two sides remain distant.
“The city currently continues to change the subject and not address the actual concern. They keep turning the discussion to other subjects, like a U-pass which doesn’t serve our demographic well for many reasons,” said Courville. “It’s not an answer to discrimination against age.”
In regards to the U-pass students are becoming aware that the program would cost all students, even those who have alternate transportation.
“I live in the city, so I could take the bus, but it would be painful for people outside of bus routes to pay for something they can’t use,” said first-year veterinary technician student Rebecca Turner.