High fees hurt campus diversity
Universal accessibility, lower tuition fees and the value of a post-secondary education was on everyone's minds yesterday at a tuition freeze rally held at Concrete Beach.
Students and faculty spoke to The Gazette concerning the significance
of a tuition freeze and why they were out in force demanding the Ontario
government change its post-secondary education policies.
"The provincial government should re-evaluate its priorities," said first-year arts student Sidonie Wybourn, adding colleges and universities are undervalued and underfunded
Graduate student and women's studies lecturer Kim Verwaayen said she hoped the rally would motivate students to get involved in their education. Ideally, a university education should be free, Verwaayen said, adding a tuition freeze followed by a rollback would suffice.
Many protesters pointed to high tuition fees as the primary deterrent to students of lower and middle income families from pursuing a post-secondary education.
Smita Chackungal, a third-year biochemistry student, said only students from families with a high income level will be able to afford a university degree if fees continue to rise. Another outcome may see students being forced to work throughout their academic year to cover their debts, Chackungal added.
University Students' Council equity commissioner Arzie Chant said socio-economic diversity on campus has decreased as a result of high tuition fees.
"This [provincial] government assumes every student has two parents that are willing and able to put their children through school," Chant said."
Cassie Campbell, a Grade 10 student at Beal Secondary School in London, said she is worried higher tuition rates will prevent her from attending Western, her first choice for university.
Although most in attendance agreed the rally was successful, some were disappointed at the turnout and the lack of advertisement. "I think the [rally] slogan should have been: reduce the fees, more money for sun-tanning," said second-year law student Andrew Davidson.