Volume 92, Issue 83

Wednesday, March 5, 1999


Sparse group of students gathers to discuss education

Students meet to influence budget

Fanshawe bus pass raises Western questions

Transcript changes compare marks

Budget cuts threaten library resources

Weed progress is home grown

Discussing the future UN


Sparse group of students gathers to discuss education

By Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

In a rally held yesterday afternoon in the University Community Centre's atrium, attendance resembled that of a lecture on lawn maintenance more than an assembly to inspire student action.

The Community Coalition for Accessible Education assembled 12 speakers to address the impact of decreased government funding and increased student debt at the national, provincial and local level. Representatives from Western, the Canadian Federation of Students and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance were among those in attendance to discuss these issues and inspire students to take affirmative steps.

Aniko Varpalotai, president of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, said Ontario holds last place for per capita funding in Canada. "This means less direct personal contact with directors and students spending more time in larger classrooms." She added the government should increase grants to at least the national level.

The Tory government was slammed by Joel Harden, Ontario chair of CFS, who said the current situation reflects an anti-student, pro-debt agenda. Though the group is non-partisan, Harden said specific actions must be taken in the upcoming provincial election.

"We implore voters to unseat the current government in Ontario. Education should be affordable to the best and brightest, not to the deepest bank accounts."

Andrew Boggs, executive director of OUSA, urged students to vote and get their message across to other voters. "Our demographic gives the least votes," he said. "We have to make it important to not only those going through the system."

Stories of specific students were related by University Students' Council President Ian Armour, who ended by quoting graffiti on campus which states: "God, help me pay off my [Ontario Student Assistance Progam] loan."

"I know students who have had to take out a loan, to cover interest on a loan, to cover interest on a loan," Armour said, adding he is lobbying to freeze tuition in order to study the impacts of past increases.

The poor turnout was not entirely a surprise to those involved. Armour said the nature of the rally wasn't conducive to a large attendance. "People don't want to hear how bad things are."

Fourth-year honours philosophy student Bryan Delaney said the rally was ineffective. "It was a big bitching session which let us know how bad everything is. I want to hear what we can do about it."

Domenic Salotti, a third-year political science and sociology student, said there were advantageous points, but was quick to point out a feature which coincided with the panel's discussions of corporatization. "It was ironic the speakers were competing with the Billboard for attention."

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