Volume 91, Issue 26

Wednesday, October 15, 1997

Country Club road


Another plan for fair OSAP

Emily Chung
Hons. Scholar's Electives III

Re: The 100 per cent OSAP plan, Oct. 3

I read with interest Brad Protocky's letter suggesting OSAP eligibility and repayment be based on academic performance as opposed to apparent financial need. It is true that sometimes parents do not make their children's education a priority, OSAP does not take this into account and some students suffer unfairly as a result. However, I disagree the system Mr. Protocky suggests would be any fairer.

He begins by arguing OSAP should be given "on a merit basis, not an income basis." It sounds great on paper, but does that not defeat the whole purpose of OSAP – to make university affordable for those who don't have the income available to them? Many of those students may not perform as well academically because they are working part-time to supplement their OSAP and put food on the table while they are studying. Should they be penalized for that?

On the other hand, "If [a student's] parents make $5 million a year, who cares? They earned the money academically, so give it to them," thinks Mr. Protocky. I strongly disagree that we should be encouraging parents to consider their children's education as none of their business, financially or otherwise. And we certainly should not encourage them to think their children "deserve" to be unnecessarily shouldering a $25,000 debt when they graduate because they earned it academically. How's that for encouragement?

As it is, students are rewarded financially for their academic performance through scholarships. At Western, any student entering with an 80 per cent or higher automatically gets a minimum $500. I agree that more scholarship money, sponsored by the government, banks and businesses, would be a great idea. Academic performance is also rewarded by a better chance of getting into the program of your choice, a better chance of getting a good job and the reaffirmation that you have learned something. Anyone who needs more motivation than that should reconsider why they are at university. I would argue most of us feel enough pressure as it is.

Besides, after a point, academics say relatively little about your "merit." If you got a 95 per cent, but a year later, you remember less than someone who got a 75 per cent (and believe me, this happens a lot), are you still a better person? How about if you make no contribution to the university community and learned no communication, interpersonal or leadership skills, but you come out of school with a 90 per cent average? Do you deserve to be subsidized by a B student who picked up a great deal of general knowledge and non-academic skills and enriched the university experience for his/her fellow students by running clubs, joining sports, etc.? I think not. What do you think, Mr. Protocky?

To Contact The Letters Department: gazoped@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997