BUSU Marches Against Bill 31 in Student Day of Action

The march winding around 18th Street, led by BUSU council members. (Kai Neiman/The Quill)

The morning was crisp as this reporter walked through the school to get to the starting destination of the rally. A couple of students were standing in the hall holding protest signs. The school seemed quieter than usual, even if it was currently class time.

Walking into the courtyard there were only a few people there, mostly from BUSU. It was just a set-up time, with much more to follow. Slowly, students began to make their way into Kavanaugh courtyard to join the protest. Some students still wanted to attend class despite the amnesty students were given to skip class, and some didn’t want to participate, which is their right.

This rally was set up to protest the acceptance of Bill 31, which would effect student’s tuition prices, and even more so for the international students.

The rally hoped to convince the Manitoba government that pushing this bill through will have more consequences than raising the tuition for students. It would effect economic growth for jobs, especially for students who wouldn’t be able to afford the tuition anymore and there would be fewer immigrants coming into the country for their education. Without our international students, economic growth would be even further affected.

Students were handed out signs that read “Education is a right. Bill 31 has to go.” Then after a short introduction to why the students were there and what the bill would do to students, the march began.

The route was short, but effective. The march began in Kavanaugh courtyard, behind the education and health buildings before we turned and headed some short way down Princess Ave. before crossing at the light on 18th street. The light changed to green before we were all across but they still waited for the marchers to cross. Some vehicles honked in annoyance and some honked but followed by a nod or thumbs up to show that they supported the students protesting. The march continued down 18th street until it reached Louise Ave. Traffic was slowed down more drastically there as the students at the rally held the larger signs up for the drivers to read. All through the march, the students chanted a phrase; “Students united! Bill 31 has to go!”

There were also speeches made about how the Bill would affect all students, especially ones who come to Brandon University from another country.

Many students have a financial need when they attend post-secondary schools. They need to borrow money from student aid, the bank, or work one or more jobs to support themselves. This causes problems in receiving a good education. A student is needing to put themselves into serious debt before they can get a well-paying job.

Bill 31 doesn’t represent the needs and futures of the students of the province of Manitoba and the country. It’s an aggressive policy that would have consequences for the economic future of our country if it goes through. This rally, and another one which took place in Winnipeg seeks to show our government that this bill would not be a good thing.

According to Nick Brown, BUSU president, “There was good attendance, 200 students if not more. The rally we held last year was successful almost immediately and we had hoped for a similar reaction this year.”

Nick Brown and Whitney Hodgins went to the public committee meeting in Winnipeg on October 26th in order to voice their concerns over what the Bill 31 would do to students.

All students deserve an equal opportunity to attend university if they wish. Education is a right, not a privilege.