Students protest tuition hikes

Western participates in a Day of Action

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Stephen Maynard at protest

Jon Purdy

"WHAT DO WE WANT?!?"... "MORE JACKETS FROM THE BAY!"... "WHAT DO WE NEED?!?" TO GET A LIFE. Former London-North-Centre NDP candidate Stephen Maynard (above) spoke at a protest against student fee increases yesterday.

Western and Fanshawe students braved the cold yesterday to protest the Liberal government’s tuition freeze cancellation and subsequent tuition fee increase.

The students, led by Abudi Awaysheh " of Western’s Society of Graduate Students and liaison to the Canadian Federation of Students " protested in front of the office of Chris Bentley, minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

The demonstration was part of the CFS’s National Student Day of Action. The event started with several speeches, including one by Stephen Maynard, a former Western student and NDP candidate.

Maynard criticized Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty for breaking his promise to hold a consultation process before implementing tuition increases.

“He’s broken his promise, broken his commitment, and it’s not right,” he said.

While the crowd chanted and hoisted signs, SOGS members went inside Bentley’s office and presented a petition of 500 student signatures.

Maynard also addressed Ontario’s above-average tuition. He said the average student debt is $25,000, while debts as high as $50,000 are common.

“I know one graduate student who’s in over $100,000 debt,” Maynard said. “Nova-Scotians have been able to cut tuition fees. But in Ontario ... we have to make up for lost time.

“There’s been two years of a freeze and now we’re going to increase tuition over four years by 20 to 25 per cent and deregulate professional degrees, making up, in terms of inflation, for lost time, as if the tuition freeze never happened.”

Many organizers called for more action; Awaysheh said he wants Western undergraduates to join graduate students, master’s students and faculty by becoming affiliated with the CFS.

He also said he wants to see tuition rates down to what they were 10 years ago and an increase in government grants as opposed to government loans.

Kamila Pietrzyk, a second-year master’s student in media studies, thinks the government should go further.

“It would be great if Canada followed some of the countries in Europe that have no tuition fees,” she said.

Pietrzyk is already $28,000 in debt. She asked how students are supposed to take part in the economy when they’re mired in debt.

“Who’s going to be buying cars " who’s going to go out and support local businesses if we can’t even make ends meet?”

Share this article on:

Facebook | DiggDigg |

Copyright © 2008 The Gazette