January 14, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 57  

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B.C. students to postpone fee payment in protest

By Allison Buchan-Terrell
Gazette Staff

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 become apparent.

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 are considering.

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.”



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