With North America sputtering in the wake of increased gas prices, students should feel fortunate. At first glance, giving up your car because you or your parents can't justify the expense might be a piss off, but look again.
As the price of oil increases, so does the size of Alberta's budget surplus. And with the recent pressure placed on the provincial government from students' associations and voters comes (hopefully) some windfall in the direction of post-secondary education. Perhaps even more than the token--yet still appreciated--gestures of last year.
If North America continues to match the rest of the world in gas prices, we might see an increase in interest for alternative fuels and--guess what?--an increase in private funding for finding those alternative fuels. (Read: Schulich School of Engineering). Now combine that funding with matching grants from the Alberta government's surplus.
The benefit to students from increased gas prices goes well beyond politics, however.
Yes, you'll lose some of the freedom you lusted after as a teenager, but you'll gain so much more. A life without a car is a life with options.
The more people choose to take transit, the better the system will get as the city responds to demands for new routes and more frequent service. Plus, you'll finally be able to use that U-Pass you've been paying for. By walking or riding a bike to Liquor Barn you won't make nearly as much impact on the environment plus you'll get some exercise. For those of you who live too far away for both transit and cycling to be useful on your commute to school, you can carpool, or better yet, use this as an excuse to get out of you parent's house.
Perhaps the most tangible benefit to these options is how much cheaper they are than driving. By breaking your dependency on cars you increase your disposable income. Who can't think of a thousand ways to spend the thousands of dollars otherwise tied up in your vehicle?
Most people, however, will continue to pay for gas, hoping for an end to the current oil crisis, or even some relief from the government. Unfortunately for them, prices won't drop until demand bottoms out.
So do your part for yourself, fellow students and the country: leave driving to the rich folk.