February 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 70  

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Rally against tuition hits Concrete Beach

By Angela Marie Denstedt
Gazette Staff
Rachel Levy
Gazette Writer
Dave Picard/Gazette
FIRST SIGNS, AND IF THAT DOESN’T WORK, ARMAGEDDON. Western students rally around the battle cry of “Reduce Tuition Fees” on the Concrete Beach yesterday.

The Canadian Federation of Students joined forces with several other student groups to hold a rally voicing their concern over future tuition hikes in the University Community Centre CentreSpot Lounge.

“Over the past 10 years, tuition fees have increased in Ontario and students are graduating with debt,” said Anne Escrader, VP-external for the Society of Graduate Students.

Debt is not only a large, current problem, but it is also becoming a deterrent for future students wanting a post-secondary education, Escrader explained to a crowd of approximately 40 students, adding tuition funding cuts and inflationary increases are wrong and cause too many problems.

“If these [tuition] trends continue as they are right now, it is really going to be threatening the accessibility of post-secondary education for most people,” said Andrea Browning, a first-year scholar’s electives student at Huron University College and an organizer of yesterday’s events.

“Accessibility is the key; education should be a right rather than a privilege,” Browning said, adding trends by the provincial government — such as privatization of education, deregulation of tuition fees and commercialization of university education — are major factors in the tuition problems that have developed over the years.

“One-hundred per cent of high school [graduates] should have the chance to receive a post-secondary education, and right now this is not the case,” said Albert Katz, president of the University of Western Ontario Faculty Association, adding that faculty members were on the side of students. “It is important that students keep their feet to the fire about the cost of having an education and the threats to make it even more expensive.”

As the rally progressed, several organizers handed out pieces of paper for students to sign their name and current accumulated debt. The pieces were to go into a ‘tomb of debt’ and be presented to Western President Paul Davenport at a later time.

“A First World country like Canada should not be charging students to go to school,” said Isabella Oftega, a fourth-year media, information and technoculture student.



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