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Tuition Freeze Now! – the campaign against tuition hikes at Simon Fraser University

Tuition Freeze Now campaign
By: 
Quentin Rowe-Codner

February 1, 2019

As the Ford government has become committed to severely and ruthlessly re-shaping higher education in Ontario, students in British Columbia are also gearing up for their own fight against changes being implemented across their own campuses. Within the past few months, administration at Simon Fraser University has quietly announced that they plan on raising tuition for all students in the coming year. The current proposal by the administration features a 2% hike for domestic students (as much as is legally allowed) and hikes of up to 20% for international students, depending on what courses they are planning to take. As the cost of living continues to rise and wages show no signs of catching up, this tuition hike will undoubtedly become a significant burden for many students, some of whom may find themselves priced out of an education at SFU.

The consultation for students carried out by the administration for this announcement entailed all of one early morning meeting in the middle of midterm season, which was only publicized by one email. Despite this, students from Left Alternative (LA) and Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA), as well as members of the Teaching Support Staff Union (TSSU) made the effort to attend and voice their concerns. What they found were further bureaucratic brick walls, as while the university disclosed by how much they would be raising tuition, they did not say where this extra revenue would go. Through this experience of poor consultation, lack of information, and outrageous proposals to deepen the unaffordability of higher education, students involved with LA, TSSU, SOCA, created the Tuition Freeze Now campaign, which has grown to include support and members from the International Socialists, as well as endorsements by the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) and the Graduate Student Society (GSS).  

Most recently, organizers with Tuition Freeze Now called on supporters to fill the room as they presented their demands to the university’s Board of Governors (BOG) in a meeting conveniently scheduled by the BOG at 8AM in downtown Vancouver. They were able to assemble 35 people, most of whom were wearing their campaign t-shirts, and garner support for their presentation. The speakers for Tuition Freeze Now highlighted in their talk that the university has been shamefully secretive in their hike announcement, having not disclosed why the extra funding is needed, nor where the money will be going. Despite this, the president of the university, Andrew Petter, stated during the meeting that their consultation process is “better than most universities.” Even if this statement is somehow correct, the fact remains that students at SFU are not very concerned with the consultation processes of other universities. 

Most importantly, the speakers also presented their demands for an immediate tuition freeze, stating that “We are tired of the burden of education falling on our shoulders. We are tired of the unfair system of payment between international and domestic students - how international students can pay up to 4 times more than domestic students. And we are tired of being squeezed from all angles – paying more and more for school, housing, and life, all while our wages fail to keep up.” Along with a tuition freeze, the campaign also seeks to put pressure on the provincial government to increase funding for higher education, and make affordability a top priority.

Building off the momentum that is still constantly growing, Tuition Freeze Now is committed to continuing to pressure the BOG, and growing the movement for affordable education. The BOG is set to officially decide on the tuition hike on March 21st, and so until then (and after), Tuition Freeze Now offers a crucial point of resistance against the administration. I implore you to follow the campaign online (and in person if possible), and please sign their petition at https://www.change.org/p/simon-fraser-university-sfu-tuition-freeze-now.

For more information on the campaign, please follow these links:

http://www.tuitionfreezenow.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sfutuitionfreezenow/

https://twitter.com/tuition_freeze?fbclid=IwAR3NZfnvyZz8Xqyib3HdqTZ0kRu7...

 

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