Advertising just may be the only way these days that a message can be effectively conveyed to the masses.
Just as the University Students' Council ran a candidate under the banner of the Education Party of Canada in the last federal election to draw education to the forefront of debate, the USC is currently planning its strategy for the anticipated provincial election media advertising.
While it is encouraging to see the USC has joined forces along with five other prominent Ontario universities to form the Coalition for the Preservation of Education, the six members still have a lot to do if they hope to see any positive results.
The main concern with the coalition is its size. It may be true the coalition has the support of six influential universities Toronto, McMaster, Waterloo, Queen's, Ottawa and Western, but these schools together simply do not have the resources to get their message out strong enough to influence public opinion.
Although members of this so-called "big six" have expressed an interest in recruiting the help of the Council of Ontario Universities, the Ontario Council of University Faculty Associations and other like-minded institutions, none of these groups have been approached at this time.
Currently the combined resources of the six members of this coalition totals to a meagre $20,000, most of which could be spent simply by airing one 30 second television ad, excluding the cost associated with the production of that ad.
Moreover, if this campaign is to sway the public by truly educating parents with children who will enter into post secondary education over the next five years, this campaign will have to be sustained over a long period time before the provincial election is called.
The "big six" should involve more members early in the process to ensure they will get the support they anticipate. Without greater cooperation with these other organizations, it is impossible to tell if this coalition will be able to launch a campaign capable of projecting a clear and united voice.
If the coalition waits too long to approach other members, they risk forcing their agenda onto their would-be supporters and discourage other organizations such as the COU or OCUFA from joining.
Still, if the coalition is able to generate the resources to launch an extensive advertising campaign, it will be money well spent, particularly for Western students. It makes more sense to attract attention to a cause over a wider area rather than focusing attention on a provincial problem at the local level.