Volume 90, Issue 84

Wednesday, March 05, 1997

Yo's baby


Protesting attitudes

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

An epidemic of student protests against tuition increases is spreading across the province and could be heading to Western in the near future.

As a result of a motion passed at the University Students' Council meeting on Feb. 19, a committee has been formed to determine whether or not Western students will protest the recent government decision to allow universities to increase tuition levels for 1997-98 by an average of 10 per cent.

Dave Tompkins, USC president, said the ad hoc committee will make a presentation to council at its meeting tonight and it will be determined by council whether or not a protest will occur.

The committee of approximately 10 students is chaired by Tompkins and has met three or four times since it was formed. The committee has discussed objectives, the timing of a proposed protest and possible methods, Tompkins said. However, Tompkins would not comment on the specific methods the committee has considered.

"There are several people on the committee who feel very strongly about protesting," he said. "The type of protest depends on the climate of the campus. We are taking into consideration methods used by other schools and the effectiveness of these protests.

The two lobby groups Western belongs to have methods of lobbying government decisions. But the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations have different opinions concerning what protest methods should be undertaken by student groups.

Rick Martin, director of OUSA, said he agrees with Western's consideration of protest action and with the methods used by other Ontario universities recently. "It is appropriate for students to consider this type of action in order to get their message across," he said. "Protesting must be done in a way to put pressure on the government to change the direction they are currently taking."

CASA's director, Matthew Hough, said he does not think a sit-in method of protest has proven effective. He added schools who want to see change need to participate in stronger lobbying movements and present a balanced message that will force the public to realize the importance of post-secondary education.

"I think some of the schools who have participated in sit-ins as their form of protest have turned themselves into the laughing stock of the political community. The message that is coming across has only proved to be a source of entertainment," Hough said. "People need to lift their heads and realize what works in our province."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997