Students gather to protest OSAP changes

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Nearly a hundred students gathered in the Veteran’s Green on Tuesday, Jan. 22 to protest the new changes to OSAP. The protest, led by Laurier Young Liberals (LYL), saw students gathered to express their anger and dismay for the sudden changes.

Aqsa Naveed, former president of the LYL and political science graduate student at Laurier, was a co-organizer for the protest.

Naveed wanted to ensure that students are aware of these OSAP changes and their potential consequences.

“[We want to make] students aware … that these changes are happening and just also [send] a message to the Ford government and [make] them realize that we won’t stay silent. We will fight for our rights to education and ensure that we can go back to school and that we have all the right resources to support us,” Naveed said.

Desiree Sam, current president of LYL and fourth-year political science student, stated that these changes are only helping the rich, and are hindering access to education for lower income people.

“I think the main point that we want here is that we want students to stay politically engaged and to pay attention to elections and to understand that the Ford government is not for students,” she said. 

“This is a major problem for the vast amount of students in general — most people cannot afford to go to school by themselves.”

Naveed also emphasized that the changes don’t just affect individual students — they have detrimental effects on everyone. She stated that they plan to keep fighting the changes until they are rescinded.

“It just seems very shortsighted and clearly the changes weren’t, like, properly thought out,” she said. “The Ford government [needs to know] that we are going to keep fighting this and we’re not going to stop.”

Participants were able to sign a petition and listen to guest speakers which included Yvan Baker, a former MPP who was present when the liberal government previously made changes to OSAP; Mitzie Hunter, previous Minister of Education; and Bob Johnson, a representative of the Green Party.

Despite the political nature of the situation, Sam stated that unity is necessary in order to combat the OSAP changes.

“People should be putting aside the political differences and work together in order to make sure that education is set up in this province to benefit everyone and not just the wealthy few,” Sam said.

An Ontario-wide protest is set to take place on Feb. 4.