Volume 96, Issue 78
Tuesday, February 18, 2003

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The case for tuition freezes

Re: "Tuition freeze: the policy of fools," Feb. 13

To the Editor:

Emmett Macfarlane's argument that "government should not impose a tuition freeze" because inflation makes such a policy unfeasible is, simply put, incorrect. Essentially, Macfarlane argued that tuition fee increases are necessary because operating costs rise steadily. The truth is that operating

costs rise because, as tuition fees increase, governments withdraw funding for post-secondary education. That's what the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario did, for example.

In short, inflation is not the problem. Government commitment is the problem. Capitalist, industrialized nations all around the world have reduced and eliminated tuition fees. These policies were not implemented by, in Macfarlane's words, "extreme left" decision-makers. In 1976, the United Nations proclaimed that "higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education." The UN is not an "extreme left" organization.

Macfarlane invokes the frightening scenario of having to remit "half" of one's pay cheque to taxes in order to fund tuition fee reductions. This is nonsense. Our federal government, for instance, already has the capacity to reduce and even eliminate tuition fees without raising taxes. Besides, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "Taxes are the price of civilization." Most people would rather pay for social programs through an equitable system of progressive taxation than with user fees that discriminate against lower income earners.

It is saddening that a student journalist would undermine the leadership shown by Ontario's Liberals and New Democrats. These parties have committed to freezing and reducing tuition fees because they uphold the principle that education is a right, not a privilege. The Canadian Federation of Students has called for a freeze of tuition so that education doesn't become out of reach for young Canadians. Using a student newspaper to advocate for higher tuition fees and thus, more inequality, is simply inexcusable.

Richard Telfer
Ontario National Executive Representative
Canadian Federation of Students
Hons. BA Sociology, Western 1998

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