B.C. students to postpone fee payment in protest
By Allison Buchan-Terrell
Dramatic tuition hikes in British Columbia have some university
students refusing to pay their student fees, while others are
taking to the streets in protest.
Middle and low income students at the University of Victoria
in B.C. have been feeling the strain of substantial tuition
hikes over recent years, said Jude Coates, chair of the UVic
Students’ Society, noting that in response, discussions
about boycotts have emerged as the effects of raised tuition
Many students at UVic have already committed to postponing
fee payments this semester as a protest, she confirmed.
“[The boycott] was the idea of many students to be the
wake up call for the university,” Coates said, adding
students hope the boycott will encourage the university to
work with the Students’ Society to lobby the government
for more funding.
The boycott is a lead up to a rally that will be held on campus
on Feb. 4 as part of the Canadian Federation of Students’ “Day
of Action,” Coates said.
She also acknowledged that the boycott was inspired by similar
action taken by Simon Fraser University last semester.
Kathryn Aberle, director of media relations at SFU, said there
has been no indication the students at SFU are planning any
sort of boycott this term. She said the consequences students
face for not paying fees include levying at 2 per cent per
month and having final grades withheld.
Frustration at B.C. universities stems from substantial provincial
government cuts to post-secondary education, Coates said, describing
the student mood as “very frustrated with government
walking backwards through fiscal policies.”
She said the issue has attracted a lot of student solidarity
and given students something to rally around.
“I think the idea of rallying as a means of displaying
public support for post secondary education system is a good
thing,” said Dave Ford, VP-education for the University
Students’ Council at Western. He also noted that he did
not necessarily support the postponement of fees UVic students
Ford cited deregulation of tuition in B.C. as the reason for
the tuition hike, similar to what occurred in Ontario in the
1990s. He also acknowledged that certain times call for certain
measures, and he would not be adverse to lobbying the government.
The USC would not use the same type of lobbying as UVic but
rather “more formal lobbying,” Ford said.
The problem of increased tuition is felt at Western as well,
he said. “I empathize with students from UVic.”