Copps stresses cultural roots
By Mark Brown and Sabrina Carinci
While most student councils do not often get to sit down with a federal minister to discuss education, it is even more unlikely the minister they talk to is an alumnus of their university.
Last Friday, the University Students' Council did both when they met with Heritage Minister Sheila Copps. The meeting, although not scheduled, raised a number of various issues.
Copps, a Western alumnus and former VP-external of the USC, said she was responsible for starting the teacher evaluations at Western the first in Canada.
"I spoke of nurturing culture," Copps said. She explained people do not appreciate often enough who they are and where their cultural roots lie.
Another important issue Copps raised during Friday's meeting involved the McGill lawsuit against Quebec. McGill is currently challenging Quebec's policy which charges out of province students attending school in the province more for their tuition.
Nick Iozzo, VP-education for the University Students' Council, said he was encouraged by Copps' offer to help McGill in its suit against Quebec, which he said affects students' mobility in Canada. "Copps will support anybody's fight over language and culture."
The lawsuit is presently in the appeal process, after the court ruled against the Students' Society of McGill University, explained Jeff Feiner, VP-external for the SSMU, who was also at the meeting. The Students' Society is challenging Quebec's policy on differential tuition because of the importance of out of province students to the university, Feiner said. "A significant part of our population is from out of province."
"It's sad that in all countries in the world, we have the lowest number of students who go to school out of province this problem reinforces it," Copps said.
"There might be opportunities for future funding. We are currently investigating that option," Feiner said. He added he was impressed with the meeting.
Another issue raised during the Friday meeting was over the goods and services tax on textbooks, which restricts the selection of Canadian textbooks for university professors who want to keep student costs down, Iozzo said.
While every student gets a GST rebate, Iozzo argued the money would be more useful in September than in June when the rebate cheques are available.