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CSA Exec reacts to tuition changes

Monday, June 7, 2004

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Written by CSA Executive

To Administration at the University of Guelph,

I am writing with great concern and distrust of the motivations and actions of the administration at this university – particularly the Registrar’s Office – with regards to the changes in tuition payment options. After meeting with Brian Pettigrew and Jill McCutcheon and consulting the Central Student Association board, it has become apparent that many things are amiss in the proposed tuition changes.

First and foremost, I am disgusted with the continuing fact that students have not been consulted on this matter. As far as I can tell, the only reason that the CSA has been able to meet with the administration about this issue is because it was accidentally posted onto the internet. As for any greater discussion with students, nothing has been done in the past and to my knowledge there is no plan to consult with students in the summer.

Likewise, I have yet to be presented with any sort of analysis or mere consideration of how students will be affected by having to pay the equivalent of half a credit course a month before it is due. Especially since at this time, no undergraduate student has been notified of this change. Though it may not be something that senior administrators are familiar with, many students have to work steadily throughout the summer simply to pay their tuition in the fall. Since they have not had time to prepare for this early payment, many will find it increasingly hard (if not impossible) to have the proposed $418 ready. It should be remembered that most students also have to work to pay for food, clothing and housing out of their summer income. For many, the deposit is equivalent to one-month’s rent.

To add insult to injury, the late fee has been increased from $60 to $100. The reasons behind this change have yet to be uncovered. It is a particularly damaging change however, on a year when students will be taken by surprise and left unprepared to find the funds for this deposit. This means that if a student does not pay by August 13th because she does not have the extra money, she will be required to pay an additional $100. If she still cannot find the money by September 2nd, she will be deregistered and have to pay the $200 fee to be re-registered. This domino-effect fee schedule will do little more than increasingly punish those students who do not have the luxury of making surplus money during the summer.

In addition to all of these issues, there remains the problem of electronic payment. Specifically, the elimination of post-dated cheques affects international students, who already pay incredible amounts of money to attend the University of Guelph. Requiring students to wire money from their home countries, where this type of technology may or may not exist, an entire month early poses another set of accessibility problems. If one leaves out those international students who do not have the funds to pay the deposit in August, there is still the problem of accessible technology and methods of payment. Again, it is impossible to speculate because the Registrar’s Office has not done adequate research to assuage these concerns.

On behalf of the Central Student Association executive, I must demand that the administration behave in a more considerate and open manner regarding potential tuition changes. First, we need meetings with all affected parties: the Graduate Student Association, Canadian Union of Public Employees 3913, the International Students Organization and other student representatives. Second, there must be student consultation in the form of surveys or letters requesting feedback on the potential changes. Third, information regarding the University’s situation must be provided. It is ludicrous to burden students with an early deposit without even providing justification for this change. Granted, Mr. Pettigrew has stated that enrollment figures are unpredictable and deposits would help to stabilize them, but he has done nothing to back up this claim. Further, we expect to see more thought given to aiding those students who will be hardest hit by these changes. Perhaps the use of bursaries and waivers could be enforced. It is naïve to assume that Student Financial Services (which the Registrar’s Office admits is understaffed and overworked) will be able to deal with all of those students who have problems paying before the deadline on a “case-by-case” basis.

It is with great frustration that I bring this letter forward to the administration in hopes of seeing some change in character. This level of autonomy demonstrated by the Registrar’s Office leaves me wondering how often students are considered when changes to fiscal policy are made. If this type of behaviour continues, the Central Student Association and other allies on and off campus may be forced to act in a more direct fashion.

On behalf of the CSA Executive,
Jenn Watt
Academic Commissioner
Central Student Association

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