Volume 95, Issue 57

Tuesday, January 15, 2002
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The principal's office

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

The principal's office

Queen's University is anxiously awaiting word from the Ontario government about their request to deregulate undergraduate arts and science tuition. If the Harris government approves the request, tuition could skyrocket to levels never before seen in Ontario.

This has, understandably, angered Queen's students.

Five students have barricaded themselves in the principal's office at Queen's, vowing to remain there until the Ontario government releases its decision on tuition deregulation.

The students are opposed to any type of deregulation and want administration to understand that any changes to the current tuition system will be met with resistance.

Regardless of how angered the students may be about deregulation, their actions appear to be pointless. Before the sit-in even began, representatives from Ontario's education ministry said they will not likely approve Queen's request.

Although the necessity of the protest is obviously questionable, the fact that the protest is peaceful thus far deserves an honorable mention. And while the demonstration – centering around five protesters – is rather small, some action is better than the alternative.

Or is it?

The office sit-in protest has been tried again and again, with reasonable success. The time will come however, when the office sit-in will lose its shock-value. Already this type of protest has become a bit of a laughing stock – though the message is still conveyed to some extent.

The issue at hand for protesters and students at Queen's is not new on their campus. In a referendum last year, 92 per cent of voting students cast their ballots against deregulation. It seems, on the surface, this issue should be dead.

So then why the need to make noise?

The protest is a question of image. The image protesters seek is a threatening one – students are not going to sit down and accept deregulation, regardless of what the administration at Queen's has on their wish list.

That image is a symbol – designed to generate awareness. Even more, it is designed to be picked up by the media. It may seem like a joke, but most people will hear about this and a message about Queen's will be delivered.

There are two ways to look at this recent turn of events at Queen's.

First, Queen's may be taking a lead role in trying to solve a problem faced by all Ontario universities – a lack of funds to properly operate.

But, on the other hand, Queen's could also be seen as more interested in money than academia.

In either case, students' voices must be heard and sometimes strange methods are required.

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