Volume 91, Issue 63

Wednesday, January 21, 1998

grape vine


USC cash grab from students

Re: Referendum for bus pass, Jan. 15 and the USC growth industry

To the Editor:
With tuition hikes probable in the near future and the fact that Western has the highest student fees in Canada, what does the current students' council wish to do? They just introduced a plan to increase the student fees $75 more. Good work, gang!

The $75 will get you a bus pass for eight months of the year and you can not opt out. While this offer may appear to be quite tempting at first, it follows some seriously flawed logic. The original mandates of a university were to research, teach and learn. The students' council and administration have adapted the role of the parental figure of students, much as the Trudeau government did to Canadian citizens. However, unlike the federal government, the university has failed to realize that it can not continue to be everything to everyone at the university. The students' council and the administration have created a growth industry of cash grabbing at the expense of students.

There will be a referendum soon for us to decide whether we want this student fee hike. There are many reasons why we should vote no. These reasons include the growth industry aspect, the private sector aspect and the fair representation aspect.

At the beginning of the first term, the administration held an open forum on student fees. At this forum, there was a concerned father who questioned the increasing student fees for seemingly useless programs that the majority of students don't use. At this meeting, the USC VP-finance, Lucy Pinheiro, stated to the father that there is no "growth industry" agenda within the USC. This being the case, how would one explain a $75 increase? Obviously, the USC has no qualms about forcing students to pay for more services that we have done without for years.

The London Transit Commission is a public venture. It is subsidized by tax dollars at the municipal level. The USC is taking advantage of the university's fee structure so that it can give the LTC a monopoly of students' transportation needs. There are many private taxi companies in London that have offered flat rate deals to students so that they can travel from the university to certain areas around the city. The USC is effectively promoting a public monopoly at the expense of the private industry. A shameless abuse of power.

This referendum will not be representative of the students who will be affected the most by this program – namely, the first-year students who live in residences next year. They will be forced to pay for a service that they will not need. The people who walk and drive to school will also be forced to pay for a service that they will not need.

If this were to be truly a fair service, it should be set up so that you have to opt in. If it comes to be implemented in any other way, it will just be another example of the USC growth industry of cash grabbing in progress. Political apathy and a socialist USC are not a good combination for the students at Western.

Patrick Callaghan
UWO Reform Club President

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

Copyright The Gazette 1998