Canadian Federation of Students speak out on tuition increase at panel discussion

Western participates in a Day of Action

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Students filled The Grad Club in Middlesex College to take a stand against tuition hikes yesterday.

The Society of Graduate Students acted as representatives for the National Student Day of Action panel discussion, organized by the Canadian Federation of Students Wednesday.

Western student leaders, administrators, and London political party members were represented at the forum.

Steven Daubs, SOGS VP-external affairs and communications and panel moderator, said the forum was trying to educate students by showing them different strategies to ease the financial burden of university education.

“SOGS is always lobbying the government to find ways to make school more affordable and it’s always better to have a unified voice from undergrads, grads and professional students,” Daubs said.

Shannon Dea, SOGS president, spoke on behalf of CFS; Fred Longstaffe, Western Provost and VP-academic; and Deb Matthews, London Liberal MPP.

“The National Student Day of Action is an annual CFS initiative that seeks to address tuition issues and protest tuition hikes in a variety of ways,” Daubs said.

According to Dea, CFS fights for three things: tuition freezes, caps, and reductions. When provinces have tuition freezes, the National Day of Action tries to inspire students to show solidarity and ensure governments retain commitments to freezes. In provinces with tuition increases, the Day of Action tries to combat hikes.

“In the past decade, tuition has risen, on average, at a much higher rate than inflation and wages,” Dea said. “It takes many more labour hours to put a student through university.

“My big concern is that we’re not improving at all in including marginalized students,” she added. “The fact is, when we lose students from lower and modest income families, then we lose other kinds of diversity as well.”

Paris Meilleur, VP-education for the University Students’ Council, said the forum’s purpose was stimulating discussion and debate.

“We are all here for an academic purpose,” she said. “As students, we need to create a space to have discussions like this.”

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