Volume 92, Issue 40

Friday, November 13, 1998

listening or hearing


Smoke and mirrors

Appearances can be deceiving.

It appears as though Western's administration is going to listen to students in deregulated programs when deciding whether or not to raise tuition in those programs even more. In fact, what students say today when meeting with administration might actually influence the decision.

It also seems Western President Paul Davenport is interested in hearing what students have to say, most notably demonstrated by his visit to the University Students' Council meeting Wednesday night. Who knows? When senior administration decided to reverse their decision about Orientation Week earlier in the year, a whole new trend could have been started at this university of actually paying attention to students.

Appearances can be deceiving.

This is not to say recent administration-student dialogue is not beneficial, but still unproven.

The only problem with today's scenario is that it is consultation after the fact. If administration plans to truly listen to students about deregulating programs, why didn't they listen in the first place? This whole situation is a little suspect. The last thing which should happen is a little token communication to at least try to appease the student body.

The fact remains that tuition went through the roof in several programs, by way of deregulation, without any real consideration of what effect it would have on this university as a whole. Western is an institution of learning, an institution of supposedly accessible post secondary education.

After only two and a half months of school, there is no way the effects of raising tuition in some programs by more than $5,000 can accurately be assessed. The university must freeze tuition rates of deregulated programs until it figures out whether the dramatic increase in tuition has had an effect on enrolment.

And that doesn't mean just numbers. The most important thing which must be assessed is the demographic of students entering these programs. If the backgrounds of these students are from a significantly higher socio-economic class, which is most likely the case, tuition fees need to be restored to their previous levels.

This issue goes far beyond one of just budgeting. The easiest way to make up for a shortfall in revenue is to raise tuition and blame the government for a lack of grants. Well, sometimes the hard way has to be taken for the good of the university.

Western was never intended to exist on the principle of dollars and cents, it was intended to exist to supply as many students as possible with an affordable and quality education.

This principle should not be sacrificed.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazette.editor@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998