Volume 91, Issue 51

Thursday, November 27, 1997

Mike the Knife


CFS angered by loan slogan

By Sabrina Carinci
Gazette Staff

A recent ad campaign launched by the Canada Student Loans Program reminding students to borrow wisely has been called insulting and degrading by the Canadian Federation of Students.

The campaign slogan, printed on thousands of fridge magnets, "Borrow Wisely. Your loan, your responsibility," was part of a larger campaign based on an increase in student loans, said a spokesperson for the Canada Student Loans Program Gail Morris.

The campaign was a product of the federal government and meant to remind students to borrow and spend responsibly in light of the 11,672 students who defaulted on loans in 1996, Morris said.

Simone Saint-Pierre, communications coordinator for CFS, said the campaign slogan is insulting. "Tuitions have raised 45 per cent since 1993. It's not a matter of borrowing wisely, it's about the fact that students have to borrow." Approximately 60 per cent of post-secondary students are borrowing money from the government, he added.

Sam Castiglione, Western's VP-student issues for the University Students' Council, said he believes the message expressed in the slogan is not a bad one, however, he does not feel it solves the high default problem either. "The [slogan] doesn't change the default. Students default as a result of the lack of jobs."

Saint-Pierre said the prevalence of student poverty mainly indicates a big problem. At least 10 university campuses, including the University of Toronto and York University, have food banks. Also, many more campuses are starting clothes exchange programs for students who can't afford to purchase new clothes, she said.

The federation believes the printing of the fridge magnets was a complete waste of money as many students will spend their money as they see fit. "If students want to pay interest on CD's, it's their problem," she said.

Castiglione agreed with Saint-Pierre and said when it comes to borrowing money, two very unfortunate things can happen – either students borrow money and don't necessarily need it or borrowed money is used irresponsibly.

When money is borrowed without necessity, it only ends up hurting those who need government assistance while the latter requires a degree of responsibility. If a student would rather spend the money on entertainment instead of living expenses, then that's an unwise choice, he said.

"There is a need for accessible post-secondary education," said Saint-Pierre. "If 60 per cent of students have to borrow, then it's not accessible."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997