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Hampton talks shop in UCC
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Hampton talks shop in UCC
By Marcy Cabral
New Democratic Party leader Howard Hampton sought shelter from the sun within Western's walls yesterday, while making a speech to students about the state of Ontario's education system.
Speaking to a sparse crowd of onlookers in the University Community Centre, Hampton focused his talk on what he deemed the three most important issues facing students tuition fees, high student debt and the prospect of private universities.
"We need to begin by rolling back tuition," he said, explaining a re-regulation of tuition levels along with increased assurance of accessibility were two crucial factors the current Progressive Conservative government was overlooking.
Hampton said the feedback he received from students indicated there were too many who were forced to take time off school because they could not afford full-time tuition. He said many students who chose to attend post-secondary school ultimately dealt with large debt loads and faced the prospect of claiming bankruptcy. "The number of students graduating from college or university with $40,000 to $50,000 in debt is simply too high."
Moreover, Hampton explained the chronic under funding of the education sector has led to the possibility of privatization. Hampton slammed the recent federal budget, which he believed did not adequately address colleges and universities. "In a knowledgeable society [more spending on education] is more important than ever before," he said.
Hampton added he believed the Harris government was heading towards the privatization of social services, which would result in future services being based on the amount of money individuals are willing to spend, not on demand. "A knowing society can't afford to work that way," he said.
Hampton called on the federal government to make out a $140 million cheque to colleges and universities to alleviate the problem of under–funding. "Somebody's gotta show some leadership on this," he said.
Mark Kissel, VP-education for the University Students' Council, said he applauded Hampton's ideas. "It was refreshing to hear a politician talk about issues facing students," he said.
"He had an optimism unlike our current provincial government and gives students an optimistic view on the future," said Daniel Besharat, a second-year biology student.