And now it’s time for the obligatory “Drop Fees” opinion column, where we take a look at how our student union once again got itself tied up in this “reduction of fees” promise nonsense. Frankly, I’m tired of repeating what I’ve said here on other occasions, so instead I will summarize a few of my main points by way of introduction.
Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberal Party never promised a reduction of fees in any way, shape, or form. What they did promise was a tuition grant equivalent to about 30% of the average cost of tuition for students. This, of course, is not what you’re hearing from our student leaders or the Canadian Federation of Students.
Further, there is a reason why international students do not get a tuition grant or fee reduction or whatever. It’s because they don’t pay the same taxes. The government isn’t handing students money they found in a duffle bag behind Queen’s Park; they’re redistributing some of the money Ontarians have already paid for services. The cost works out to about the same for internationals.
Glad we got that out of the way.
On the issue of the rally itself, it occurs to me that perhaps some of my earlier criticisms were a bit too harsh. While I still believe that the “Drop Fees” campaign, in addition to being grossly misguided and misinformed, is an exercise in futility, I do think there is some ancillary value to be gained from taking part in such events.
It seems to me that student unions serve two purposes: to maintain relations and hold dialogue with the university community on behalf of students and to promote and participate in student causes. The “Drop Fees” rally falls under the latter raison d’être and, while it may not have actually served any other purpose than to promote CFS and the unions behind it, I think that is a suitable end in itself.
I believe our student union has done a good job of making itself visible, both on- and off-campus. This is in large part due to their participation (hell, leadership) in the “Drop Fees” initiative. Seeing that much of their influence is derived from visible support, I can understand why rallies such as the one held last week make up such an important part of their agenda.
Despite the absurdity of the event itself, it is nice to see our union go out and take some initiative. If they want to spend their time campaigning under a false premise then bless their little hearts. Just try not to disrupt any more of my classes.
Michael Di Leo