A fundraiser asking University of Toronto law students with paid summer jobs to donate a day of their wages to those in unpaid roles has been cancelled, following backlash over whether the initiative targeted the right pocketbooks.
In an email circulated to the school on Wednesday, the Students’ Law Society acknowledged that “recent controversy” over its #OneDayofPay campaign had “made it impossible for the Pledge Drive to fulfill its purpose of building community or to raise the required funds to achieve its goals.”
The initiative, led by the Students’ Law Society with faculty support, originally aimed to raise money for aspiring lawyers in unpaid positions with social-justice oriented organizations. But as reported by the Star last week, the fundraiser prompted some students to ask why young people should subsidize salaries rightfully paid by employers.
“They’re sort of suggesting that the people who should fix the problem of unpaid work are students rather than employers that are getting people to work for free and getting the benefit of that work,” said Ella Henry, a third-year law student at the school.
The idea was also panned by U of T Law’s student newspaper, Ultravires, which published a sharply worded editorial decrying the Pledge Drive in the context of mounting tuition fees and student debt.
“Under the new regime there is but one solution to every possible problem. Salaries too low? Raise tuition. Articling alternative law practice program underfunded? Bill the students. Students’ employment rights being violated? Ask their classmates to make up the difference,” the paper’s editor-in-chief David Gruber wrote.