Raise tuition: students
UBC group counter-protests
By Allison Buchan-Terrell
A group of students at the University of British Columbia
are staging counter-protests in defense of tuition increases.
Joel McLaughlin, the president of the UBC Young Conservatives,
led the counter-protests in response to protests led by the
Canadian Federation of Students to freeze tuition fees. “Anytime
there will be a CFS protest, we will be there to counter that,” he
They are not necessarily defending tuition increases, he explained,
but added that tuition has been frozen for six years which
caused severe underfunding. If tuition was frozen now it would
hurt future generations of students, McLaughlin said.
“Taxpayers already subsidize university students’ education,
and the question is how much is enough?” he said.
Tuition increases bring better education, and if tuition is
decreased the quality of education goes down, McLaughlin said,
adding he has seen the positive impact of increased tuition
translate into smaller classes at UBC.
“People who argue for tuition going up [argue it] increases
quality,” said Lucas Schuller, BC campaign co-ordinator
Schuller stated that as costs rise, the funding for education
should come from the government and not individuals in the
form of tuition hikes. “A lot of institutions are increasing
[tuition] again.” he said. “[At] UBC we are running
on a campaign of going against tuition increases.”
“[There is] a silent majority of students who don’t
agree with the CFS,” McLaughlin said, noting students
at the counter-protest were not all Young Conservatives.
Schuller cited the platform of the Ontario Liberal government,
as inspiration for the CFS’ initiatives in B.C., pointing
to the CFS’ successful lobbying of the B.C. government
to freeze tuition in 1995.
“It would be nice if [the tuition freeze] could be implemented,” said
Stephen Yantzi, president of the Progressive Conservative Association
at Western, adding the Liberals are having trouble keeping
their election promises.
Asked to comment on the actions of UBC Young Conservatives,
Yantzi said “I can’t comment on what they are doing.”
“I would say a five to 10 per cent [increase] would
be fair,” McLaughlin said. He admitted this is lower
than some universities are forecasting, which is in the range
of 15 to 20 per cent increases.
McLaughlin advocates for government policy to cap tuition,
while creating an education cost index similar to the consumer
price index to reflect the cost of education. “This is
a far more sustainable process,” he said.