A rally set to encourage unity among Halifax universities began on the University of King’s College campus Tuesday. Students gathered around the university’s library steps to hear King’s Students’ Union president Anna Dubinski and King’s assistant professor Laura Penny defend liberal arts degrees and call for better education funding.
“This is to promote and celebrate the process of universities in Halifax getting together to create a better education system,” said event coordinator Jennifer Nowoselski, who hopes to eventually bring all 35,000 of Halifax’s students together in one movement.
The march continued on to Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and the Nova Scotia College for Art and Design (NSCAD) University and into the evening.
“Without universities Nova Scotia would be like cold Florida. It would be an old folks’ home and tourist trap.”
— King’s assistant professor Laura Penny
Nowoselski said the march was intended to gather students around “everything that matters to students.” She referred to student debt, racism, sexism and indigenous rights in particular.
About 30 students met to start the march from the King’s quad. Planning for the event began just a few weeks ago, and it wasn’t until last week that posters for the march appeared on bulletin boards and under residence room doors at King’s.
The group depended on loud drums to draw students out from their dorms to hear Penny and Dubinski speak.
Penny dismissed the notion that in pursuing a liberal arts degree, students are only preparing themselves to ask, “Would you like fries with that?”. She says the claim that “some people will be broke their whole lives because they took the wrong major whereas other people will surely be farting silk because they took the right major” pits students against each other.
“It’s a way to force young people to squabble over scraps instead of asking the better question which is why are we being served scraps? Why after a childhood where your parents and educational institutions are like, ‘you can be anything you want to be,’ are we now throwing you guys under the Atlantic Ocean?”
“It’s very easy to play divide and conquer politics,” she said.
Penny and Dubinski both said solidarity is the key in moving forward. “Without universities Nova Scotia would be like cold Florida. It would be an old folks’ home and tourist trap,” said Penny. “We’re more powerful when we’re together.”
Kate Jordan, a first-year who joined the rally when she heard the beating drums, agrees.
“Because there are so many schools in Halifax we have the possibility to bear a really strong voice,” said Jordan. “I think that if we join together we can accomplish great things.”