Opinion: Board of Governors chooses to raise tuition again... SERIOUSLY?
Wednesday, April 18, 20122 Comments
Yesterday afternoon the University of Guelph’s Board of Governors voted on a budget that included a 4.5% increase to tuition fees for domestic undergraduate students. This board has two elected undergraduate students (Martin Straathof and Guillaume Blais) that accepted the increase, a choice that must be socially reprimanded.
At a recent panel discussion on tuition fees, Guillaume Blais made the claim that getting a university education is a choice. With 70% of new jobs requiring a post-secondary degree this illusion of choice only furthers the agenda of those looking to privatize a socially vital part of our society. Admittedly, he also explained that he was not under the burden of debt unlike other students so maybe we can let his naiveté slide.
I agree that tuition fees are a choice, but not one that falls on students to make. The fact is that having an educated society is beneficial to all of us. Do we want a doctor that struggled to graduate because of the part-time job? Do we want the architects, tasked with the crucial role of building our bridges to keep us away from water, stressed over their student debt? Do people truly think that education is not a common good?
Why is it that Ontario students are so willing to shoulder the burden of funding post-secondary education by themselves? Have we truly reached the level of privilege in universities where we think that graduating 40k in debt just for a useless degree can be justified?
Luckily, this is not the case elsewhere in the world. Students in Quebec have won a tuition fee freeze time and time again through mass rallies and student strikes. Just a few months ago, when the Quebecois government proposed raising tuition fees by 75% over the next few years, students called on their allies and declared a student strike and have consequently suffered firsthand the types of state reprimands most of us have only seen in V for Vendetta and the Hunger Games. Approximately two hundred thousand Quebec students are currently on strike. Around 250 000 protestors marched in Montreal on March 22nd of this year, with another major demonstration planned for April 22nd this upcoming weekend.
So what is so different here? Do we really see our education improving 4.5% every year? Should students that, unlike our representatives, have had to carry on the debt and take up jobs to make ends meet really be phased out? Perhaps what this ivory tower needs is a giant wall around the university premises in order to keep pesky working class students out.
Will we also stand idly by when they start charging fees for secondary education, which is something that portions of the Drummond report foreshadowed? Will we happily fill out paper work proving we are financially solvent enough to have our hearts defibrillated? Where do we draw the line?
I refuse to believe students are so unwilling to speak up against tuition fees. I accredit the fact that this pattern of increases has been allowed to proceed due to ignorance. It’s up to the Board of Governors to be honest and open about the decisions their making. If they fulfilled their job in representing campus interests and involving the community in decisions that affect us, I am confident we would make very different choices. I am confident we would put a priority on accessible, quality post-secondary education.
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