REPORTER'S NOTEBOOK: Inquiring minds found out
By Jeff Badger
The voice of Western was heard by the masses this past weekend as a result of CFPL-TV's Inquiry a program which aired Saturday and Sunday.
University Students' Council president Dave Tompkins was part of a guest panel which discussed such topics as recent cuts in government funding to Ontario universities and the deregulation of tuition fees.
Joining Tompkins on the panel were Western's president Paul Davenport, Fanshawe president Howard Rundle and Liberal Party youth critic Sandra Pupatello.
The discussion focused on financial issues, with Tompkins and Pupatello both speaking on the side of the students. Davenport and Rundle represented views of the administration, but remained sympathetic to student concerns.
"Tuition fees have been going up over the last term of government, this term of government, and the indication is that they will continue to go up," Pupatello said. "We can't allow universities to become an elitist place accessibility has to be available."
Pupatello was definitely on the side of the student but seemed to preach more of a 'Hell no, we won't go' attitude rather than trying to show a means of working towards an effective way of offering the same quality of education at the current, if not lower, tuition cost to the student.
"Pupatello was very critical of the government cuts and actions but didn't really offer any solutions," Tompkins said after the taping.
With regard to fee deregulation, Davenport said "the future sees a wide range of tuition fees depending on the expected earning-potential of their degree. However, we are committed to maintaining accessibility across a wide variety of programs."
Deregulating tuition fees would have an even greater effect on college students, said Fanshawe president Howard Rundle. "Fifty-seven per cent of Ontarian college students require financial assistance," he said.
A central point for Western students was brought up by Davenport, in that Ontario is now ranked last among the 10 provinces in terms of government funding to universities.
"The Harris government promised students would pay 25 per cent of their education costs. We are at 31 per cent here at Western," Tompkins said. "Students are already paying their fair share, don't ask them to pay any more."