The Canadian Federation of Students – Manitoba (CFS-MB) has appointed Dele Ojewole as the interim-chairperson following the resignation of Carlen Comegan-Ronke.
The announcement was made in a statement posted on CFS-MB’s Facebook page Dec. 16. Ojewole, who was the organization’s former deputy chairperson, had his new position officially ratified Jan. 8 at the regular provincial executive meeting for CFS-MB.
In a statement posted on the organization’s Facebook page Jan. 11, Ojewole restated CFS-MB’s commitment to advocating “for an affordable, accessible, and high-quality post-secondary education in Manitoba.”
Ojewole is currently in his final year in applied computer science at the University of Winnipeg and said he feels “extremely privileged to be serving as interim-chairperson,” adding that his participation in student politics was borne out of his belief “in advocating for an affordable and accessible post-secondary education.”
The fight against Bill 31
The Advanced Education Administration Act – Bill 31 – lifts a cap on tuition hikes that has held increases to inflation since 2012, and removes restrictions on course-related fees. The bill passed its third reading with a majority in the early hours of Nov. 10 following an all-night legislative session.
Universities in Manitoba are now free to increase tuition fees by five per cent plus inflation annually, starting September.
Speaking on Bill 31, Ojewole reflected on student advocacy against the rise in tuition fees.
“This past year, thousands of students from across Manitoba worked tirelessly to oppose the provincial government’s attack against an affordable and accessible post-secondary education in the province,” he said.
Almost 50 people spoke – overwhelmingly against – the bill at a committee hearing Oct. 25. This included representatives from CFS-MB, UMSU, the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, and Brandon University Students’ Union.
On Oct. 26, more than one hundred students participated in CFS-MB’s day of action in Winnipeg. Students marched from the University of Winnipeg to the Manitoba legislature calling on the provincial government to scrap Bill 31. The protest was attended by students and alumni from the U of M, Université de Saint-Boniface, the U of W, and Brandon University.
“Since then, the student movement has grown stronger and we will continue to pursue an affordable and accessible public post-secondary education,” Ojewole said.
Ojewole affirmed CFS-MB’s commitment to continue its fight against the expected rise in tuition fees.
“Bill 31 will not slow us down,” he said.
Ojewole added that the organization will continue rallying and advocating across campuses in Manitoba to ensure that university administrations “will not capitalize on the passage of Bill 31 in raising tuition.”
“We will not back down until our vision for an affordable, accessible post-secondary education in Manitoba is achieved,” he said.
UMSU is currently preparing to hold a plebiscite asking UMSU members whether they wish to continue their membership in CFS.
Voting in the plebiscite will open Jan. 31 at 8:30 a.m. and will close Feb. 2 at 4:30 p.m. Online votes will be tallied on umsu.simplyvoting.com. A polling station will be set up in front of the UMSU office in the UMSU University Centre.