Students' voice on tuition has laryngitis

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

To the Editor:
Students barely filled a handful of tables at The Grad Club during last Wednesday’s panels for the National Student Day of Action. Of the many pressing political issues students could debate, tuition and student debt are arguably the most relevant to the student body.

Complaints about the high cost of student living are commonplace, but when people with political authority come to debate tuition hikes and growing student debt, we can’t find our voice. Panelist Deb Matthews (London Liberal MPP) claims there are “greater barriers” than tuition when considering post-secondary school. She slyly circled around exactly what those “barriers” might be.

She said 40 per cent of Western students who graduate debt-free shouldn’t get financial aid " they obviously don’t need it since they drive BMWs around campus. Western is a rich school, she said, and the fraction of that 40 per cent sitting on a plethora of wealth is by no means typical of the average Ontario student.

Have you counted 13,200 BMWs around campus? The “middle-class” is broke too, and many don’t fit the criteria for financial aid. But nobody spoke up. Nobody was there to speak up. OK, a few of us were there and a few of us spoke up, but we " students as a whole " didn’t. Our collective student voice is much like any other minority group making significant sociopolitical strides. Universities used to buzz with counter-cultural impulses and lust after social change; nowadays we spend our spare time lusting after the latest trends while shrugging our shoulders at the world.

Stop taking education for granted. We can’t afford to not afford our post-secondary education. Just talk a little more. Talk a little louder. At least you’ll be talking. If nothing more, it’s a start. We need you.
"Katie Ablett & Katie Pointner
MPI III, Philosophy III, MIT I

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