This opinion piece is in response to that entitled “Opinion: Board of Governors chooses to raise tuition again… SERIOUSLY?”
I would first like to point out that our elected student representatives Mr. Blais and Mr. Straathof likely understand the fiscal situation facing the university better than any other undergraduate student due to their participation on the Board of Governors. The fact that both supported the tuition fee increase indicates to me that they must have had a compelling reason to do so which is in the best interests of students. Both students are very capable and determined individuals with a background of serving students.
I’m not sure if the author is aware, but the provincial government tightened its belt with the recent budget and is fighting a major deficit. If less funding is going to be coming from the government, where will it come from? Will it magically appear? Will the Board of Governors wave a wand and conjure up an endless supply of cash?
Decreasing tuition will result in less money to be spent on operational costs. This would mean less money for professors and less for the resources they require, like labs and equipment. There will also be less for TA allocations. This would mean larger class sizes and fewer TAs. Is this really what we want? It would be quite unwise to risk playing with our quality of education. A good education is worth the cost.
“Have we truly reached the level of privilege in universities where we think that graduating 40k in debt just for a useless degree can be justified?” asks the author. No one is coercing anyone to obtain a degree, and it is certainly not useless. University graduates earn $20,710 more per year than college graduates, $22,825 more than those in the trades, and $29,457 more than those with only a high school degree (Statistics Canada 2006), and these margins will only increase in the future. It seems that the fees we pay now will more than be rewarded to us later.
I would thus disagree with the author’s call to “socially reprimand” our student representatives on the Board of Governors. What she might instead call for, and what I suggest, is for our representatives to explain how this decision was beneficial to students.
Finally, I feel that the author errs in equating “student interest” with reducing fees. It is certainly one factor among many. Quality of education received plays an equal if not more important role than tuition fees. As already highlighted, a university education will be a tremendous financial benefit in the future. She argues that “I accredit the fact that this pattern of increases has been allowed to proceed due to ignorance.” I would encourage the author to broaden her outlook and consult more broadly with departments and other service providers to understand how decreasing their operating budget would impact students.