Volume 95, Issue 59

Thursday, January 17, 2002
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Halting the creation of a deregulation nation

Democracy in Afghanistan brings prosperity and peace?

Halting the creation of a deregulation nation

Re: "The principal's office," Jan. 15

To the Editor:

Ironically, The Gazette's editorial regarding the student occupation at Queen's University simultaneously questions and reaffirms the necessity of the sit-in protest.

Nevertheless, some points need clarification.

As of Monday, the Ontario government had not yet made a public statement regarding the Queen's University proposal to deregulate tuition fees for arts and science undergraduate programs.

Deregulation, of course, means no limits on tuition fee levels. The issue, therefore, is far from dead. And even if the Ontario government rejects the Queen's proposal, deregulation will remain a significant problem for professional, graduate and post-diploma programs at colleges and universities.

For those programs, deregulation followed by massive tuition fee hikes has been a reality since 1998. For this reason alone, an act of peaceful civil disobedience is far from "pointless."

The deregulation debate would not have exploded had the concerned students not taken action. Further, like a strike, the sit-in has effectively disrupted administrative operations in order to force negotiation on a matter that negatively impacts all students.

The sit-in is no "small action." It has broad-based support within a larger movement for accessible post-secondary education. Last year, 92 per cent of Queen's students voted against deregulation.

And in Ontario, two separate polls revealed more than 80 per cent of people are in favour of tuition fee freezes and reductions.

Ontario has the second-highest tuition fee levels and the lowest per capita funding for higher education in all of Canada. In addition, higher tuition fees have not translated into improved quality.

The solution to these problems is adequate public funding, not downloading the costs to students and further compromising accessibility.

It is critical that students act now to restore accessibility and to freeze and reduce tuition fees. At the same time, we must unite in our call for adequate government funding. On Feb. 6, students all across Canada will be demonstrating for these basic demands.

Historically, only the mass action of the student movement has turned the tide against the most regressive assaults on accessible public post-secondary education.

Rick Telfer

Ontario National Executive Representative

Canadian Federation of Students

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Copyright The Gazette 2001