United for knowledge
By Mark Brown
Student councils from six prominent Ontario Universities are well underway in their preparations for an election that is still only speculation.
For the last month, student representatives from the University of Toronto as well as McMaster, Waterloo, Ottawa, Queen's and Western universities have been meeting to discuss how they propose to draw attention to student issues in the next provincial election.
The group of six universities is calling itself the Coalition for the Preservation of Education, said Nick Iozzo, University Students' Council VP-education. Presently, the group is working on drawing up a framework, with the hope of expanding membership sometime in the future.
"The student movement hasn't been that successful at getting its message to the public," said Milan Knopeck, academic affairs commissioner for the Queen's Alma Mater Society.
The coalition has picked three areas it believes will resonate with the public, Knopeck said.
He explained the three points the coalition wants to stress to the public include the impact carrying a debt of $25,000 will have on a student's ability to compete in society after graduation and the "sticker shock," as more students turn off of selected programs after they see tuition increases in deregulated programs. Informing parents of how their children will not be in the same position as they were when they graduated will be one of the main points of the campaign.
"We are going into the stages of planning," Iozzo said. Presently, the coalition will be targeting high school students and parents with children who will be entering into the post secondary education system in the next five years.
The coalition is working on an number of different means to get the information out, Iozzo said. "There are some ideas for television, radio and print ads."
Robin Stewart, VP-education for Waterloo's Federation of Students, said he was pleased with the progress of the coalition so far. "We should be able to put something together that will have an impact."
The focus of the advertising campaign will be on the pre-election period, Stewart said, fearing the message would get lost in the noise of the campaign period.
The coalition currently has approximately $20,000 between its members to spend on its advertising efforts, Stewart said. He added each university will also contribute in various other ways to keep costs down.
Western currently has $3,500 set aside, with the possibility of that amount growing to $6,000, Iozzo explained.