Here's a new concept that's sure to make Western students go, "huh?" The Board of Governors announced yesterday that tuition levels will increase for now (10 per cent for undergraduates, five per cent for graduates) but if the Board decides in May against the hike they will send students who are taking summer courses rebate cheques.
Rebate cheques. Is there a student alive that believes they will ever see that money in their mailbox?
By raising tuition the administration has backed students into a corner. The greatest argument students have had against tuition hikes thus far is that they can not afford hikes. Yet, administration is now asking students to pay the increases up front for spring and summer classes. What argument against tuition will students have when the May decision is made, since the administration will be holding the tuition cheques of students enrolled in classes already? If the proposed hike doesn't keep people out of classes and those classes are full, then the argument against hikes becomes almost null and void. Forget about the students who could not afford to enroll in classes.
Does the Board really think students believe tuition might not be raised? Do they think they can pull the wool over our eyes?
Flashback: The date, Thursday, Jan. 29. The significance: Western President Paul Davenport told a crowd of students gathered together on Concrete Beach for the National Day of Action that the administration planned to discuss the possibility of a tuition freeze over the next two months.
Fastforward to the present: Friday, March 27, almost two months to the dayand there is no evidence that the administration ever thought the idea through. Great image booster, though.
Then there was the Senate meeting last week, in which administration refused to consider a well-thought-out proposal by students to increase tuition by only five per cent.
Western's administrators have continually tried to downplay the fact they are raising tuition. They talk of how they understand students' needs, they feel our pain, blame the government, etc. But by trying to appear accommodating to students while ramming through their agenda for increases, they are actually insulting us more.
The issue of a tuition freeze or even a five per cent increase is a dead one. So what's next for students?
If the University Students' Council really wants to help students, it should start planning now, right now, to find ways to soften the blow of the tuition increase.
One way is to create the position of a corporate endowment commissioner for next year. More than ever, creating corporate ties is necessary. This position would be held by a student whose job it would be to elicit funds from businesses to create scholarships for students. Surely there are students who would be interested in taking on this challenge. And although no one likes the big, bad corporatization of universities, there aren't too many students that would turn down a Burger King Bursary. For smaller businesses that can't afford scholarships, money can be added to the student endowment fund.
We have to take on the initiative ourselves, because administration has consistently shown it is not to be counted on.