Get in the game
Students were given dismal news over the holidays the Ontario government announced in December that universities now have the ability to hike tuition 10 per cent this upcoming school year and the same amount the year after. As well, fees for professional schools can be raised without limits.
If students are going to voice opposition to the increases, this is the last chance, since the decision is now in the hands of Western's administration.
The University Students' Council had planned to discuss what action they will take in response to the government's news on Wednesday night but, unfortunately, discussion has been postponed until next week's USC meeting. As of now, council has no plan of action at the university level, according to VP-student issues Sam Castiglione. Although President Ryan Parks said he was surprised by the government's announcement, Ryerson students have been planning for it since September.
Let's get moving.
The chances of the Board of Governors increasing tuition are high. Whenever they have been given the chance in the past they have capitalized on it.
There are several ways the USC can approach this impending road block, besides the traditional sit-ins and protests which littered several Ontario universities last February. First, council can garner the support of alumni by advertising in the Alumni Gazette or sending information to them. These mail-outs must convince alumni that students nowadays have tuition and debt problems that are unique to this generation.
Secondly, students should appeal to professors. Surely there are profs concerned with rising fees and the possibility that some promising students may not come to university because they can not afford to and don't want to take out monstrous loans.
Most importantly, council should garner local media attention (perhaps using its Education Party of Canada, which captured media attention during the federal election). Send personal profiles of struggling students to radio and television stations along with what the USC or EPC thinks about rising costs. If there is one thing Western hates, it's bad publicity. Between the Maclean's rankings and the community hoopla over the new residence (which undoubtedly led to VP-administration Peter Mercer's opinion piece in yesterday's London Free Press), publicity about the strain with students over tuition could make the Board listen.
Finally, while it is important that Western's students' council voices its disapproval of tuition hikes to the university's administration so administration knows students are united against increased fees, council must also focus on how they can help students if the fees rise (which they undoubtedly will).