Education a right, not a burden

I’m told to save every penny for university. I’m told to get a job to pay tuition. I’m told to get a loan to afford my BA. I have an interest in keeping tuition costs low. Ask any student how they feel about tuition, no one wants to pay more.

When rumours started circulating last year they would raise tuition, naturally, I was upset. When it became clear they would raise it above the provincial tuition cap, I was angry. There is a provincial cap on how much a tuition could increase every year. As the administration has pointed out, it is the Board of Governors who decides the cost of education here at STU.

They raised tuition last year because it’s in their best interest to do so. Did they take a pay cut? Did they ask students how we felt about it? No. They had a poorly attended town hall meeting where they didn’t take any notes. I want the students to be able to have a say in their own education. I want education to be a right, not a burden.

I spent some time walking around campus, asking if anyone had any friends without debt. I couldn’t find anyone who did. What does it say about our expectations of students when debt is the norm?

As bad as it is for domestic students, the situation is even worse for international students. I approached a group of international students, asking how they felt tuition raises were handled by the school.

“They never ask us, [we’re] taken for granted,” said Clara Santacruz, a second year student from Ecuador. Hiroko Kosuge, a second year student from Japan added, “I don’t think we actually have a say to be honest”.

The Red T movement was started last year as a student interest group. It was formed because it didn’t seem like anyone else was fighting for it.  While the STUSU provided many great services, we wanted something more than Welcome Week leaders and a Safe Ride program. We wanted lower tuition.

When asked if the STUSU was working for the interests of students, Vanessa Noel, a second year student replied: “I don’t know, I don’t think they communicate well with students.”

No member of the STUSU wants to see tuition rise. Elizabeth Murphy, the STUSU President will be the first to say “we are completely against it.” That much is clear.

We all love the beautiful buildings, the small class sizes and the community we have here. But I came to STU because it was cheap. We love STU because it’s a great place to learn. Students should get involved in the tuition discussion, if only to keep it cheap enough to love.

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