By David Bird
I am writing to you to express my thoughts on the consultation process of 1999/2000. I am disappointed to read that the Gauntlet editors hold the opinion (see Ed/Op, Jan. 20 and 27) that the process is a secretive and anti-student plot of the administration and that Rob South has "sold out" to the Administration.
The implication that these discussions were happening in secret between Rob South and the Administration since August, is false. The Editors forget that Rob South had publicly announced his decision to engage in tuition consultation with the Administration at the beginning of his term (last May). Moreover, the tuition consultation process is an annual one, which occurs between the Administration, the gsa and the SU. The only time this process did not involve the SU was last year, when then-SU president, Paul Galbraith, decided that tuition consultation did not work and pulled out.
Some students (and Gauntlet Ed/OP writers) are upset that details of the tuition discussions were not being made public, but they have to be private until all parties can agree. It is not unlike union bargaining; negotiating and consulting is a sensitive process. Do unions invite all of their members to the bargaining table? No. They elect a bargaining team to represent the members of the union. Can anyone name a negotiation process where the public is invited to listen to the discussions? By voting for Rob South, you gave him the authority to act as your representative in the tuition consultations. As student leaders, it is our duty to fairly represent the needs of undergraduates (Rob) and grad students (me) at these discussions.
What were the conditions that lead to last year’s tuition protest? Some claim the "mismanagement of monies" for one. Sorry, but the Auditor General, by the request of the Board of Governors, investigated all of the "mismanagement" allegations made by Mr. Galbraith last year, and guess what? The surplus is bull. There is no $70 million surplus; no secret pots of money. What makes the Gauntlet editors so convinced that university money is mismanaged?
Who thinks that tuition consultation doesn’t work? Through consultations with the gsa and the SU, the Administration came forward with the lowest tuition increase in ten years! Do you honestly think that denouncing the consultation process (like Galbraith did last year) would get you a better deal?
Students should be outraged at the current levels of tuition, but the university is legally required to balance its books. The provincial operating grant has declined 21 per cent since 1994. Nobody wants a tuition increase, except Lyle Oberg, of course. I hope you don’t like the tuition increase, but dammit, tell the government because the university doesn’t have a choice. Students should protest? Damn right they should! But protest to the people who caused this problem: the Alberta Government. Tell Lyle that tuition is a problem and that student debt won’t solve it.