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Engineering students protest the proposed 40 per cent tuition increase at the evening event.
the Gauntlet

Students pose to protest tuition increases

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Throngs of upset university goers figuratively raised their voices in displeasure at proposed tuition increases Tuesday afternoon in the MacEwan Student Centre.

Students were invited to hold comic-like speech bubbles for photos which will be turned into postcards and delivered to the Board of Governors when they vote on the proposal for market modifiers and compulsory fees.

The word balloons contained various slogans, all representing the displeasure and strain these new tuition hikes would cause. Just beyond the photo booth was a white board where university students were encouraged to write their candid thoughts on the potential large tuition increases.

The photogenic activism drew four hundred participants over lunch time with everyone uniting under a common anti-tuition hikes sentiment.

"As a business student I think it is unethical," said Slava Nartakhov, second-year student in Haskayne.

Nartakhov's tuition is already high since he is an international student and the Russian said his semester is costing him $7,100 for four courses.

Those prices are too expensive for his father back home to afford after his own business suffered financial setbacks. The younger Nartakhov has now taken a cashiering job at Safeway to cover costs.

"With the proposed increases . . . honestly, I'm scared to think," he said.

Science major Sean Sinclar wanted to know what the university is thinking, because he certainly doesn't understand the proposed increases.

"The costs are hefty already and now they want to raise them some more, I find that a cop out," he said. "I don't think students should be forced to bail out their own university."

Liberal MLA Harry Chase showed up to support the students in his riding and said there is a clear bottom line with student activism like this.

"If you don't invest in education your economy suffers," said Chase.

Event organizers were happy with the turn out and had about 400 postcards signed for the Board of Governers to sift through when it comes to decision time.

"We're quite happy with the response so far, it's been quite busy since we began at 11," said Social Work faculty representative Rianne Wolf. "We're trying to create an amount of solidarity between students in regards to tuition increases."

Wolf and others were serving a free macaroni and cheese lunch to everyone who signed a postcard.

"I've yet to hear from a single student that I've spoken with . . . that has been in favour of the market modifiers," said SU government relations adviser Andrew McIntyre.

With the possible tuition increases, McIntyre said the university is limiting students' choices.

"We don't know what the job market is going to look like by the time that the people who are paying these costs up front get out of school," said McIntyre.

"Will there even be jobs for them?"

The lunchtime event was a warm up to the evening where U of C provost Alan Harrison fielded questions about the increases at Student Legislative Council at 6:30 p.m.

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Comments

Business ethics: Not only should we profit by competing well in the market, we must preserve institutional structures which favour our own position, but which also systematically prevent the underclass from achieving success.

Alberta tax payers and students in the low potential earnings faculties already subsidize more than 90 per cent of the actual tuition costs in the professional faculties. The U of C is proposing that that number be lowered to around 87 per cent. Why do you seem to expect so much sympathy?

Also, why must it remain solely the public\'s responsibility to support post-secondary education? An equitable solution would require contributions from all beneficiaries of the value added by PSE, or a distribution of the value provided by graduates in proportion to those who paid for the education. If particular industries want more professional graduates, they should pay the costs of educating them. There\'s no equitable or rational model of sustainable social or economic development which would support continuing to force low-income English lit and philosophy majors to support engineering, law and business students who benefit from paid internships as part of their education.