Waterloo students try to get Senate to change their tune
By Kevin Gale
Students at the University of Waterloo have chosen a different route to take a stand on optional tuition increases.
To voice displeasure over the option for universities to implement a 10 per cent discretionary tuition increase for Ontario students next year, Waterloo Federation of Students president Mario Bellabarba has put forth a motion calling to change the Senate's stance.
"I felt it is about time the Senate take a position on tuition," Bellabarba said. "I wanted to get students and faculty more involved. Senate is the highest body with the highest number of student and faculty representatives," he said, adding eight students at Waterloo sit on Senate.
The motion calls for the Senate to publicly support increased government funding to the university rather than support deregulated and differentiated tuition fees.
A second part to the motion calls for a Senate recommendation to the school's Board of Governors not to approve any tuition increases that haven't been arrived at through consultation with faculty and students.
"Clearly if funding doesn't change then neither should tuition," Bellabarba said. He added he would not support any tuition increases unless quality of education was at stake, which is not the case right now.
Waterloo's VP-academic Jim Kalbfleisch said the motion, if nothing else, will spark welcome debate on the issue from the community.
The Senate and Board of Governors are different governing bodies with different purposes, but Senate is still within its scope to make budgetary recommendations should they pass, Kalbfleisch said.
University Students' Council VP-student issues Chris Walsh said he will put forth a motion at tonight's council meeting to help establish a USC position on differential tuition fees and tuition increases.
Walsh said he is proposing the council oppose both because with a freeze on cuts to education from the provincial government, no increases to students should be incurred.
He added in combination with the feedback survey results from last week's presidential elections on the issue, the USC will formulate a standing policy.
The WFS is scheduling an open forum on tuition for sometime in March to get answers from the administration. "If tuition is going to be increased then we want them to justify why and where the money goes," Bellabarbra said.
Kalbfleisch said he and Waterloo president James Downy are planning to attend the forum.