Tuition: It's too much and students deserve better

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

  • Student protest at the University of Vienna in october 2009.

    Student protest at the University of Vienna in october 2009.

Written by Chris Carr

What are you entitled to? It’s a question every student should be asking themselves right now. Are you entitled to a good education? Are you entitled to pay a fair price? Are you entitled to anything?

The protest-turned-ugly in Victoriaville on May 4 raised a lot of these questions for students. It started peacefully enough and students were enacting their right to protest. This is what should be happening at protests—like-minded individuals coming together to be heard and raise awareness for a common cause. I am assuming this must have been the plan for the protest organizers in Quebec.

For those who do not know, the government had announced that tuition would rise by 75 per cent gradually over the next few years. This is in Quebec only. Students there have been out of class for 80 days until that point, in protest of the tuition hike.

However, things turned ugly when some of the protestors either began throwing rocks at police, or the protesters were coerced by police to incite violence. I had read one quote that had said that students were confined under capacity. Therefore the gates set up to house the protest were designed to be knocked over. This would allow police to take corrective action against protestors. But that is still inconclusive.

Quebec has some of the lowest tuition rates in Canada, and the 75 per cent increase would make tuition come close to that which we spend here in Ontario. This fact makes me think that maybe Quebec students were spoiled, and it is about time they felt the hardships of the rest of the student population. But I quickly shake this reasoning. Just because I have to pay more and I am bitter about it, does not give me the right to belittle the strife of my compatriots. They are obviously upset enough about this to endure rubber bullets and tear gas. And to say that the concerns of other-province students do not reflect our own is just stupid. These are real issues that affect all of us here at the university.

This brings me back to my original question: What are you entitled to? Well the university is a business and one of the common responses is that students do not have to utilize post-secondary education. It is, apparently, completely voluntary. I think of it as the opposite of car insurance. You have to have insurance, you don’t have to have an education. This is a flawed argument, because it acts on the assumption that students are willingly going into debt. It is true that students have to seek out the university, apply, get accepted and go to class. Usually on the dime of the Canadian government. But the real kicker is that most students today are in school out of necessity and not because they want a higher level of learning. There just isn't anywhere else for young people to go. The university acts as a life raft for anyone who refuses to be miserable in their vocation. Is that a bloated sense of entitlement? No. It's the pursuit of happiness. And that is worth a rubber bullet in the chest.

Now I am not insinuating you need a degree to get a good job. I am promising it. “Thou shalt not be paid enough without letters after your name,” is the commandment I am handing down from stone slab to babes' ears. I am sure there are a few exceptions to the rule, but this is the general sense I am getting from students. So students are pitted against the dark side that is real life and told that only universities will teach them to use a lightsaber. How can you blame students for wanting to pay less for the chance blow up the Deathstar? (or: a chance to succeed in life for those of you not down with the force).

Simply, tuition is too damn high. If students learn at a government-owned institution while also borrowing from said government in order to do so, is it not in the government's best interest to lower tuition rates? With lower tuition rates, more people go to school, more people start businesses, more people spend money and capitalism will grow into the behemoth it wants to be. I am not as delusional to assume it isn't all about money. I understand that without tuition growth, The Cannon might not even exist. But there has to be something that can be done to help the people who are trying to better our society though higher learning.

What students are entitled to is happiness, just like everyone else. I for one, am willing to take at least a rubber bullet for that right. Are you?

Chris Carr is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Inordinate Ordnance publishes everyThursday in The Cannon and in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.

The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.

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