Volume 91, Issue 70

Tuesday, February 3, 1998



A little cheese with your debt?

©Tom Baumgartner/Gazette

By Sandra Dimitrakopoulos
Gazette Staff

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations held their first ever National Student Debt Day yesterday with member schools across Canada participating through several initiatives.

The idea for the day came from previous conferences where the general consensus indicated there was a need for mobilization of students, said CASA national director Hoops Harrison.

"We don't have a problem convincing the public we have a problem," he said. "We need them to understand why we have a problem."

To participate in the day, the students' councils of CASA's member schools, including Western, were left to decide on their own initiatives – and most events involved Kraft macaroni and cheese.

At Western, USC presidential candidates put their spin on Kraft Dinner recipes and served students lunch. A Wall of Debt consisting of $320 in loonies and pyramid of 325 donated Kraft Dinner boxes also totalling over $320 were also on display to symbolize the expected increase in tuition fees.

"This event was a perfect jumping-off point for pushing student aid reform," said University Students' Council President Ryan Parks.

Several other CASA member schools including the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta and the University of Manitoba also included the Kraft Dinner theme into their National Student Debt Day.

Yet other students' councils took advantage of advice offered by banks and financial corporations such as McGill University, who invited Scotiabank to field financial questions. The Minister of National Assembly Jacques Chagnon also addressed students on student debt issues, said McGill University Students' Society VP-external affairs Lisa Phipps.

National Student Debt Day was also considered a good preview to the semi-annual CASA conference in Ottawa where petitions, available for signing at all events, will be presented and eventually tabled at a House of Commons meeting.

The conference, which begins today and ends Saturday, will play host to Finance Minister Paul Martin, Human Resources Minister Pierre Pettigrew and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party Jean Charest.

The Canadian Federation of Students held a similar event last Wednesday, the National Day of Action, where several schools across Canada, including Western, were asked to rally against tuition increases and student debt.

CFS executive director Brad Lavinge said the two organizations obviously approach this issue differently but believes rallying is more effective as shown by government response statements which followed shortly after the rally.

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Copyright © The Gazette 1998