Average university tuition is 126 per cent higher than in 1990. Only 8.31 per cent of university revenues come from the government, and Ontario has the worst funding rates despite being the richest province.
At UTM, some are oblivious to this, some just pay whatever number pops up on ROSI, and some rage. The best place to see the various sentiments of the students regarding tuition and student debt was the innovative “Student Wall of Debt,” a mainstay of all rallies and events regarding tuition for the past several years.
Student Scott Patterson wrote “I owe nothing, quit crying about money and get a summer job that pays well, it only takes a minute amount of effort. Prepare in advance for this!” But as Zeeshan Baig retorted in his message two inches away from Patterson’s, “That’s like getting prepared for getting screwed up the a$$, Scott.”
Feb. 4 was the day students all across Canada got together to make some noise about the financial state of university education. UTM got its own taste of student involvement as some 400 students crowded into the Student Centre in a concentration rarely seen. They milled about, got some free pizza and while some tuned out, most tuned into the speakers present for the event.
First to speak was Rick Tefler, a Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) Ontario representative who outlined the situation and the provincial government’s pivotal role in post-secondary funding.
Second to speak was Bob Delaney, MPP Mississauga West. Delaney promised that the concerns of students would be heard by the Ontario government. He went on to say that he understood the need for betterment of the student situation in Ontario; and Delaney re-affirmed the promise was going to come eventually.
He likened the Liberals’ interest in students to any government’s interest in building upon a resource and while oil might be a resource for some countries, Canada’s resource is apparently “whatever is between your ears.” Delaney closed off by expressing his appreciation for the event, which went off quite smoothly with good numbers, and even went so far as to say his fellow parliament members were envious because it was Delaney was the one that got to go see the students. Then Simon Black, a former UTM student and current NDP candidate for Mississauga-Erindale gave a combination of speech and opposition-style points to both the audience and the Liberals. In an interview after the event, Black stated “The event went really well given the history of student activism at UTM. I’m happy with how it went.” He went on to say that Prime Minister Paul Martin’s speech from the throne was essentially “a kick in the face” to students; that all that the Liberals are proposing is the status quo.The Liberals are increasing loan limits but not addressing the problem of growing debt. Black feels that Martin and 1993 was the decimation of our welfare state, that education needs to be a holy grail of society the way Health Care is. Simon is hopeful that “people will see through the Liberal rhetoric.” So whether you’re now filled with a burning desire to write letter upon letter to your MP, or like third year student Hop Ho you feel “Hey, free pizza, free T-shirt, free jitz. Feb. 4 was a deal,” the event was at the very least a good turnout for a cause that affects student pocketbooks every term. Scarborough students marched alongside their St. George cousins in downtown Toronto.