Students should skip class Nov 5th to "Drop Tuition Fees"
Wednesday, October 29, 200848 Comments
So why is your CSA and your national student union calling for grass roots organizing at this time and in this way? Accessible education, especially in Ontario, has been eroding since the early 1990’s with tuition fees increasing at four times the rate of inflation. Our province is now ranked last for per-student funding in Canada, which in turn has caused the highest tuition fee hikes in Canada, high ancillary fees, ever-growing class sizes and universities that are run more like businesses than institutions of higher learning. In short, we pay for more and get less. And then there’s the debt. Undergraduate students graduate an average of 27,000 dollars in debt.
Even a look at these outrageous statistics does not properly communicate the fundamental problem with skyrocketing tuition fees. The vast majority of Canadians would agree that education should be accessible to anyone able to “make the grade”. Why? Because if education becomes a privilege reserved for the wealthy then there is little chance of the underprivileged having any say in our Canadian society. In short education is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy.
The question remains whether we are at the point where people are being denied education based on their own, or their parent’s, income level. Certainly the federal and provincial governments are quick to point out the accessibility of OSAP, scholarships and grant programs. The “Drop the Fees” campaign argues that the research is available for us to effectively answer this question. Students from wealthier families are 5.6 times more likely to attend post-secondary education then low-income Canadians. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, “40% fewer students from low-income families attended the University of Guelph” after the dramatic tuition fee increases. With 70% of job postings requiring one form or another of post-secondary education (combined with the loss of our decent paying manufacturing industry) what does this mean for the well being of lower income wage earners in Canada and what effect is it having on our Canadian democracy?
Although there is little talk about remedying the grim situation on Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park, the Canadian Federation of Students sees light at the end of the tunnel. In Ontario, the McGuinty government’s “Reaching Higher” education initiative is set to expire this year. There is hope that a new plan can be formulated, one in which students’ needs are taken into consideration. The CFS states that “the government has promised to review the system, but we are tired of students not being put first. This campaign is intended to empower students, families and allies to have their say and demand a new plan for the post-secondary education system.” Judging from the action of all Ontarian governments in recent memory it would be naïve to think that any progressive change will come without massive mobilization on the part of the students. Events such as the November 5th “Day of Action to Drop Fees” are integral to making our voices heard. In order for change to happen there needs to be a starting point. The CSA and the CFS are hoping that November the 5th initiates a united and committed movement to build an education system “based on access, equity and fairness”.
The November 5th action will take place at noon in Branion Plaza, and will consist of a march to downtown with a rally at 1:30pm. For more information please contact the CSA External Commissioner at