Volume 96, Issue 92
Tuesday, March 25, 2003

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Western to rally for tuition freeze

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

Western, not usually known for its political activism, will be the site of a political rally this Wednesday.

The rally calls for a freeze of tuition fees and, in the case of the Society of Graduate Students, a reduction in graduate fees.

The rally is endorsed by the UWO Public Interest Research Group, the University Students' Council, SOGS and the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association.

"It's important to make this a campus-wide thing," said Josh Morgan, USC VP-education. "[It is] important to get students out and active on these issues."

He said this rally will be much more powerful than those held in the past, as it involves graduate and undergraduate students coming together for a common cause.

The day will begin at 12:30 p.m. on the Concrete Beach in front of the University Community Centre, confirmed Matt Tobey, president of UWO PIRG, adding various speakers will begin to address the crowd at approximately 1 p.m..

The speakers list will include Morgan; Jesse Greener, SOGS speaker; Sarah McCarter, SOGS VP-external; Paul Handford, president of UWOFA; Rebecca Coulter, New Democratic Party candidate for London North Centre in the provincial election; and Deb Matthews, Liberal candidate for London North Centre in the provincial election, Morgan confirmed.

Dianne Cunningham, member of provincial parliament for London North Centre and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, was invited to speak as well, Morgan said, adding the minister said she was unable to attend, due to cabinet commitments with the upcoming budget.

The rally will then march to Cunningham's office in downtown London, Tobey said. At this point, Coulter and Matthews will be speaking again, he added.

"We're not just calling for a freeze [in tuition fees] – but also a graduate fee reduction," Tobey said.

"We've adopted an official policy for fee reduction and an end to deregulation," McCarter said, adding the policy was passed at the January SOGS council meeting.

"We want to raise public awareness about the lack of accessibility to post-secondary education," she said. The direction of the government [has been] towards further distance to accessibility, McCarter added.

"We have been pushing [promotion] fairly hard with race cards and posters around the city and campus," Morgan said. "I am hoping for a fairly strong turnout."

"The USC is really trying to bring a level of information to this rally," Morgan explained. "We want students to realize the power and influence they have simply by voting."

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