March 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 87  

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Martin isn’t keeping his promises

Re: “Letter to the prime minister,” Mar. 11, 2004

To the Editor:
I would like to commend The Gazette for the editorial calling on our prime minister to carry out long overdue reforms to our financial aid system and provide dedicated funding for our universities. As VP-education of the University Students’ Council, I had the opportunity to participate in the roundtable discussion with the prime minister that took place last Friday at The Great Hall.

This was not the first time I had met with Paul Martin, nor the first time I heard him proclaim his concern for, and commitment to, access to higher education. Despite such proclamations, I left the meeting with a strong sense that he has no intention of taking the steps necessary to prove he is committed to accessibility.

In response to my concerns surrounding the fact that 29 per cent of students are forced to drop out after their first year of study for financial reasons, and that the average student debt for an undergraduate is $21,000, he commented that we need to revamp the Canada Student Loan Program.

Well Mr. Martin, we’ve agreed on this in the past when you were finance minister, and now as prime minister you have done very little to fix the problem. It was almost three years ago that I heard a similar statement from you at a conference in Ottawa.

When asked to provide a dedicated transfer of money for universities so they are not forced to download their costs onto students, you argued that to give a dedicated transfer the provinces would “scoop up” the money. In other words, you have no intention of ensuring universities receive the funding they require. This is a shame because there is a direct correlation between skyrocketing tuition and the absence of a dedicated transfer. You cannot ensure access unless you control tuition, and you cannot control tuition without providing adequate funding.

With a federal budget on its way, students need to pay attention. If the commitments aren’t there, we must send a clear message to Mr. Martin on voting day.

David Ford
VP-education, USC

Hotline needs more butts... er, bucks

To the Editor:
My boyfriend recently stopped smoking. He’s doing great, but the lack of nicotine has made him a very cranky boy. I try to be nice and encouraging, and tell him he’s doing a great thing, but our biggest problem has been deciphering when he’s cranky just for crankiness sake or because he needs a cigarette.

We found an advertisement in The London Free Press about a smokers’ helpline, sponsored by the Canadian Cancer Society. My boyfriend and I thought this would be a great way to get some advice about working together to help him quit successfully. So, on Friday afternoon, at about 5 p.m., we called the smokers’ help-line. To our surprise, it was closed.
We had a good laugh at this and figured we would call them back on Monday; however, I don’t know that everyone would take the problem as light-heartedly as we did.

I feel bad for someone who calls in a panic needing that last bit of encouragement — and finds no one there to help. Does the Canadian Cancer Society really expect recent quitters to have cravings only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday to Friday? The obvious answer is no, and a lack of funding is most likely the explanation. The advertisement should have made it clear the helpline was closed after business hours.

I’m not saying the helpline is a bad idea, I just wish it was a) better funded or b) advertised with its hours of operation. I welcome any replies, and if anyone knows of support systems on campus, that would be great too.

Lindsay Buckingham
King’s College Psychology III



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