Senate to address tuition increase
BY BRENDAN HOWE
Huge tuition increases will be coming before Western's Senate today but not without protests and pleas from students across campus.
The much-awaited university operating budget looks to be the most controversial item on the agenda and will be presented to senators for their stamp of approval. Included in this budget are both the deregulation of tuition fees for professional and graduate programs as well as tuition increases for other undergraduate programs.
Ian Armour, president of the University Students' Council, said there will be a motion put forward to Senate to change the budget and soften the proposed increases. He added although he believes there is a lot of support for students, senators may have other interests in mind.
"A lot of senators are faculty members and an increase in tuition means an increase in revenue for them," Armour said.
Robert McMurtry, senator and dean of medicine and dentistry, two of the hardest hit proposed deregulated programs, said he does plan to vote in favour of the budget but first wants to make some amendments. He explained he wants a needs-blind admission policy created so new students will not be judged on their financial background.
"We must not forget where the problem comes from. It's Premier Mike Harris who seems to not have any respect for post secondary education," he said.
Some medicine students are planning a rally outside the 1 p.m. meeting at the Richard Ivey School of Business. Daniel Rabinovitch, a second-year medicine student, said he and his fellow students, who could be facing tuition hikes of over 100 per cent, are planning a peaceful protest.
"This is so Senate is aware of the large amount of concern we have over the future of public education," he said. He added they are hoping to attract at least 70 supporters.
Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, acknowledged the tuition hikes are dramatic and is prepared for a lively meeting. "I'm expecting a pretty spirited debate," he said.
He added the increases have to be done because of shrinking government funding. "The government has shifted responsibility and blame into the hands of the universities."
Armour, however, does not buy the university's justifications for the increases and plans to prove to senators that tuition does not need to go up as much as the university says it does.
"We're expecting to show that the university gets more money than the budget shows," he said. "Through creative accounting they manage to show they need to increase tuition."