Posted by: Jennifer | February 7, 2007

taking to the streets

Across Canada today, students had their say about rising tuition costs:

Thousands of university and college students are rallying across Canada on Wednesday as a national day of action to demand lower tuition fees and more education funding.

The Canadian Federation of Students, an alliance of more than 80 student unions, organized rallies on campuses and marches on provincial legislatures. Workshops, panel discussions and information pickets are also taking place.

[…]At a rally at the Nova Scotia legislature in Halifax, about 250 students banged on drums and chanted slogans, and some carried signs reading: “Students aren’t cash cows.”

Student activists say they want affordable post-secondary education and relief from heavy student debt loads. They want governments to spend $4 billion more each year on college and university education.

According to the federation, student debt in Canada is estimated at $20 billion across the country and is increasing by about $1.5 million per day.

[…]Tuition fees range widely across the country, with Nova Scotia having the highest fees of any province, according to Statistics Canada.

Canadian Federation of Students protest

I had a pretty awesome view of the parade from my office window. God, am I the only one who is suddenly nostalgic for the old days? The days when we would be down there with them, waving our signs and screaming that the government should listen to us? When did I get so old?

I have been watching the news as I created this post, and a Nova Scotia politician was just on TV saying that most of the students who are complaining about high tuition are coming out of college with big loans because they have been “living above their means” while they were at school. If that means that they bought the fancy toothbrush instead of using grass and twigs to brush their teeth, then I guess they’re all guilty. I have no doubt that there are students who are spending more money than they have, especially on essentials like beer and vodka. And taxis. But for the most part, students are pretty good about knowing where to spend their cash. And they are trying to spend it on groceries and shelter and resources like books. And those are the ones that are actually able to go to school. Let’s not forget all the people in this province who are unable to get assistance and therefore are unable to get into school. If higher education is going to be a necessity for well-paying jobs, then higher education should be available at little to no cost to anyone and everyone who wants a high-paying job. There is just no room for debate on this.

I also feel the need to point out that I paid more for one year of tuition and books at the Nova Scotia Community College than I paid for one year of tuition and books at the University of Northern BC. Just something to think about in terms of the differences between the provinces.

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