Opinions

Bend over kids, it's tuition time

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Congratulations, students. You're about to take a hefty tuition increase up the ass for another year.

For those of you who actually give a shit, the Board of Governors will decide next year's tuition increase Fri., Nov. 30 at 9 a.m. in the Blue Room of the Dining Centre. We at the Gauntlet demand you attend this meeting, whether you're a pot-smoking activist or you drive an Acura to the Arts Parkade every morning. The fact is, we're all on the same sinking ship, and that makes us all equally responsible for doing something about it. Sorry about the apathy shots, but a little pessimism gets through sometimes, you know?

So when you come to the meeting, you should come with a tiny bit of knowledge about what's going on. Allow us to lay out some of the bare facts of the debate and give you a little history of organized dissent in regards to tuition.

In December of 1989, former Alberta Advanced Education Minister John Gogo began the process of downloading education costs to students. As a result of that change, tuition steadily increased. The only restriction the government put on the increases was they had to be gradual. The government later decided tuition revenue could account for no more than 30 per cent of the university's revenue sources (known as the tuition cap).

Before this started happening, about 2,000 students stopped traffic on Crowchild Trail during a protest in 1987. That's right: students actually did something to protest. Amazing, right?

Since then, tuition began the steady climb at the maximum rate permitted by the
Alberta government. During the 1990/91 school year, 10 half-courses cost you $1,168. If a 3.7 per cent tuition increase is approved by the BoG Nov. 30 for the next school year, the same 10 half-courses will cost $4,120 dollars--a notion that Gauntlet editors hypothesized about in 1995 through a mock cheque cover we've refurbished and republished today.

The situation seemed pretty hopeless until very recently. In the 1998/1999 school year, on the heels more than 1,000 protesters chanting outside, the BoG decided to not increase tuition by maximum permissible amount for the next year. It instead chose to only raise tuition by 80 per cent of the maximum. The year after that, the BoG chose 65 per cent. Last year, they decided on 48 per cent. This year, the same increase of 48 per cent is up for discussion.

Once again: Administration wants to raise tuition 3.7 per cent, 48 per cent of the maximum, which is an extra $145 dollars for 10 half-courses. The good news is you can still do something about it.

It is easy to blame an ineffective tuition consultation process that pits a toothless lobby group (the Students' Union) against a group of number-crunchers (administrators who are bored because they've already decided and probably give the same explanation schtick year in, year out). It is easy to blame an oil-revenue soaked government whose education coffers are dryer than an August day in Southern Alberta.

Nonetheless, you can't blame yourself if you've done something--anything--about what the government and administration tries to shove down your throat. So for crying out loud, don't take it lying down--or bending over.

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