Bishop's student union wants tuition increase

Student Representative Council dissenting voice in Quebec battle over tuition hikes

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Quebec students protest

Matthew Gore/THE LINK-CUP

"WHAT DO WE WANT? MAPLE SYRUP! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!" Quebec students protest proposed tuition hikes for the province's universities. It's good to see them fired up. Hell, it's good to see anyone fired up. It gets us fired up! Woo!

Sometimes you get what you pay for, according to students at Bishop’s University.

The Students’ Representative Council at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec passed a motion last Wednesday asking the Quebec Government to increase tuition by more than $50 per term and increase student aid appropriately.

The SRC stands out amidst the many voices of dissent towards the government’s current fee hikes. Two weeks ago, the Association for Solidarity among Student Unions " ASSÉ (a provincial student union) called on students across Quebec to participate in a three-day strike against the tuition increases.

Vince Marmion, VP-student affairs for the SRC, claimed ASSÉ has monopolized the debate.

“We wanted to shed some light on the other side of the issue,” he said.

“The postsecondary education in Quebec right now is sub-par and severely underfunded,” SRC President Jocelyn Molyneux said.

By passing a motion in favour of increasing tuition, the SRC hoped to let the government know students are willing to do their part in striving for a better education.

Marc-André Saucher, information secretary at ASSÉ, disagreed, claiming education is a right and should be completely financed by the government.

“The fact that students [at Bishop’s] are fighting for education as a privilege is kind of absurd.”

Quebec students protest

But the SRC has decided to focus on an approach it calls more realistic.

“We’d rather see a practical solution than pipe dreams,” Molyneux said.

Saucher still thinks the government should deal with the funding problems at its own level, rather than pinching the pockets of students.

“[Education] has to be available to all if we call ourselves a democratic society,” Saucher stated.

Molyneux explained while the SRC called for tuition increases, it also called for more financial aid.

“There needs to be a recognition that those who have the means to pay for an education should pay for it, and those that don’t should have it paid for them.”

As for the Quebec government, it is not budging in either direction.

“The tuition will not change,” stated Stéphanie Tremblay, spokesperson for the Quebec Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sport.

Scott Courtice, policy analyst for the University Students’ Council, said the controversy is complex.

He explained when a government freezes tuition, it is expected to subsidize any difference created by inflation; in Quebec’s past, that likely did not happen and the quality of education suffered accordingly.

Courtice tended to agree with Bishop’s mandate.

“I think that keeping tuition at the rate of inflation is okay, as long as students that are affected by increases are receiving grants that make up the difference.”

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