THE STUDENT MOVEMENT Issue 1
Join the Movement! The Drop Fees Coalition of the University of Windsor has decided to release this pamphlet in order to involve more students, faculty and staff in the movement against tuition fee increases and the privatization of our University. We are a grassroots volunteer student organization formed in 2009 in opposition to tuition increases, which were imposed for the 2009-10 academic year. At that time, many students answered the call to go to the university’s Board of Governors meeting to show that we are not in favour of increased fees, and we want the right to speak about our concerns. Although students who mobilized were unable to speak, it was an important step in showing that students are political and we care about what is taking place. Why now? We feel that changes are being made at our university that are not in students, faculty and staffs’ interests. As the Federal government is currently prorogued, the Prime Minister has announced that when Parliament returns, it will be to “balance budgets” at all levels of government. Of course, we are not against or for balancing budgets; however, given the millions of tax dollars that were used for the government’s so-called “Economic Action Plan,” do they now mean that new rounds of cuts to social programs will be carried out in order to pay for it?
WHO ARE WE? The Student Movement is a newsletter of the University of Windsor’s Drop Fees Coalition. We consist of student volunteers supported by the Organization of Part-Time Students (OPUS), the Graduate Students’ Society (GSS) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). Our goal is to inform our university community about important campus events and to encourage everyone to participate, come forward with stories and take action on issues that concern them.
The Provincial government which is constitutionally responsible for the administration and funding of our education system may also announce significant cuts in our social programs. Ultimately, our university administration will be put in a position to further increase fees, cut back in programs and focus program directions towards getting private monies. In other words, the members of our campus community, students, faculty and staff all have a stake in what is taking place—yet, we are not included in the decision making. Instead, as students, we are viewed as tuition paying units who should simply be happy we got accepted to university. We do not accept this situation. Students, faculty and staff are the lifeblood of the university and should have a say so in what happens at the federal, provincial, municipal and campus level. We want campus empowerment and political discussion on what is taking place so that we can defend our interests under the circumstances. This pamphlet is aimed at building that empowerment and discussion in order to mobilize our campus to resist any increases in fees, or restructuring which doesn’t serve the interests of our campus community. We invite everyone to help us get the word out and build this movement. Please send us your comments, views and any important news so that we can keep growing! Signed, Editorial Committee The Student Movement
SAY NO TO TUITION INCREASES AND PRIVATIZATION! President Wildeman to Hold a Town Hall The Drop Fees Coalition encourages all students, faculty and staff who are concerned about the direction of the university to come to the town hall and have your say. TUESDAY MARCH 9, 2010 12:00pm – 1:30pm Ambassador Auditorium
Background on Drop Fees in Windsor WORKERS AND STUDENTS UNITE!! Handbill Distributed during Labour Day Parade 2009 Dear Windsor Worker, As students from the University of Windsor’s Drop Fees Coalition we are reaching out in solidarity. Labour Day is a day when unions and workers meet collectively and we support you and identify with your struggle. As University students, we are your kids, your community members and the future. Over the past several years, the government has been cutting funding from education, making it less accessible for all people in our community to attend post secondary school. Last year, a new president was hired at the University and we don’t know what to expect. In a recent President’s update, he was waiting to see how much the province would let the University increase tuition. He’s also in support of the 3 year fiscal realignment plan, which supports tuition increases for the next two years. Tuition fees have already risen 4% for returning students and 8% for incoming students from last year to this year. That means that your kids who are going into in grade 11 will pay 23% more than students today for the same programs. And that’s just in their first year. The government’s solution to the high tuition fees is to implement programs like RAP (Repayment Assistance Plan), which extends the time that students can pay back their loans. Such plans that “help students” ultimately increase the amount of interest that we pay back on our loans. As students, we do not accept this. We feel strongly that we can fight the rising costs of tuition and our first step is to inform you and ask for your support. Loans are not solutions to seeking out education. Lowering tuition fees will not only better your kids but it will better our society. We hope that you will support us in solidarity in upcoming events, meetings and donations. Look out for our day of action on Nov 5th when students across Ontario mobilize in solidarity. For more information, please visit reducetuitionfees.ca and contact us at email@example.com. By Lauren Quinn
Speech from March 2009 Board of Governors Rally Today at the University of Windsor, students, unions, faculty and community members stand together in solidarity to fight the rising costs of tuition fees. As students, we attend post-secondary education to better ourselves and the community. Rising admission costs are making it increasingly difficult for students to seek out education. Right now, the board of governors are meeting in Toldo to pass the Budget Committee’s tuition fee proposal for a 4% increase for returning students and an 8% increase for incoming students. International Students coming into first year business are facing a 13.9% increase, which is an almost $900 increase and International Students coming into first year law are facing a 19.5% increase which is an almost $1600 increase. The University Administration’s primary concern should be the students at the University of Windsor and raising our tuition HURTS students the most. Currently, Windsor has the highest unemployment rate in Canada and community members need to return to post-secondary institutions for retraining. Parents are constantly struggling to contribute financially to their sons and daughters post-secondary education because many of them are laid off from the Big Three or various other jobs that were cut when the automotive industry took such a desolating downturn. Three years ago, the University administration overestimated student enrolment and therefore over budgeted for that year. Because of these decisions made by the administration, not by students, we currently have a deficit in the operating budget of 4.389 million dollars. The administration chooses to correct this mistake by raising OUR tuition fees. The average student debt in Ontario in 2006 was $26,000 and has risen since then, and we should NOT be the ones to make up for their mistakes. As undergraduates, we are relying on loans like OSAP to pay our tuition; INCREASING our debt load and as graduates we are too busy trying to pay back these loans making it nearly impossible to contribute to our crippling economy. We cannot buy houses, we cannot buy cars because we are in so much debt, which ultimately not only has a negative impact on our future, but also hinders the economy even more. Continued on last page.
Issues on our Campus Today Internal Politics and Struggle: Building Democracy on Campus In light of the cut-backs that my department was facing, the coordinating committee within the department decided on inviting the dean of our faculty to a meeting. The object of this meeting was to attempt to open dialogue between the two levels of our program in order to develop a strategy of working within this framework of incessant departmental cut-backs. Overall, the meeting was extremely frustrating to attend and participate in as a student who is extremely passionate about the quality and experience of education. There were several themes that were revealed in this meeting that I feel are indicative of an overall dangerous trend that is occurring within and across Ontario campuses in light of the waning of funding for Post Secondary Education and the general attack on the public sector from the provincial and federal governments. First of all, there was a general implicit message conveyed through the dean, of the necessity of inter-department competition. Not only was our department explicitly referred to in relation to the success of other departments as “lacking” but we were encouraged to “be more like department X”. This internal pressure to “be competitive” can have detrimental impacts on the abilities of faculty members within departments to develop quality relationships and networks with other faculty members within the university, but it can also serve to produce a negative outlook on various programs, which is conveyed to students (implicitly or explicitly) and that can have HUGE impacts on enrolment figures and retention rates within departments. This is something that I feel has become prevalent today with regards to public sector funding, which I will discuss next. When questioned about what steps the deans and administration are taking to tackle funding issues “from above” (i.e. pressuring the governments for more money), the dean laughed and asked a rhetorical question: “If you had to choose between ensuring that your elderly mother received health care, and ensuring that tuition fees were decreased and that funding to universities increased, what would you choose?” Continued on last page. Administration asks us to choose between principles Have you taken Dr. Wildeman’s survey on his Strategic Plan? You should, if not to contribute, than at least to understand the mentality of the administration. It is available from http://www.uwindsor.ca/takingaction. There are five pages to the questionnaire. The first two are asking students and alumni to evaluate an exceptionally vague and over-arching mission statement and “reason for being.” The last is a demographic page asking for your age, relation to the school, etc. The third and forth pages ask you to rank the school’s principles and priorities; these are the sections which I take issue with. How can someone rank an institution’s principles? How can the “highest intellectual standards” be ranked above “research and teaching” as applied “to issues of importance to the world?” Can the two even be separated? If a curriculum cannot be related to contemporary issues, can it truly be called higher education? Is anyone a worthy enough judge to rank “civility and respect for others” above “the highest standards of human rights and freedoms?” I don't understand how students are expected to choose between these all important values. And what about ranking the University of Windsor’s “strategic priorities?” How does the school expect to be “a more research-intensive university” if recruiting and retaining “the best faculty and staff” is placed as the lowest priority? Who is to say whether or not promoting “international engagement” is more or less important than engaging “the community in partnerships that will strengthen the economy, quality of life and well-being of the Windsor-Essex region?” Is providing us with “an exceptional and supportive undergraduate experience” less crucial than the above priorities? Our school’s motto is “Thinking Forward,” but how can discarding any of the above principles or priorities be anything except a step backwards? According to the strategic plan`s website, Dr. Wildeman will seriously harm the quality of education on this campus while at the same time pretend to keep students informed. We cannot let either happen. Come out to Dr. Wildeman's townhall meeting and let your voice be heard. By Ian Clough
Continued from Internal Politics The issue of health care or education is a huge battle that Ontarians are facing right now with regards to prioritization of funding to the public sector. It is a commonly held belief that provincial funding for the public sector can only adequately support either health care or education, and herein lies a HUGE misrepresentation of the abilities of the provincial and federal governments. We need to challenge that rhetoric. Billions of dollars are poured into defence, into bailing out the banks and into the shareholder pockets of multinational corporations that the federal government protects from paying taxes. In the same way that it is not the students' or faculty’s fault that tuition has increased or enrolment has decreased, it is not the workers and students that are the causes of the failing economy, nor the economic downturn and loss of jobs. However, it is us who pay the costs of public-sector cut-backs and loss of employment opportunities in the name of “bigbusiness” and “free-markets”. More and more, our university is being operated as a business, and students and faculties are being treated as productive units who simply contribute to the growth (or decline) of its profit margin. Finally, the overall authoritarian nature of the meeting was extremely discouraging. For the first time in the history of my department it was decided at the general council meeting to not pass the academic schedule (outlines the courses for the following year that will be offered and the teaching loads associated with these courses) as a way of resisting these changes that would clearly increase the workloads of our faculty and decrease the quality of education for students. When this issue was presented to the dean, the response was “so what; whether or not your signature is on that document is irrelevant. I have the final say in signing that document, and I will sign it regardless if you have approved it or not.” Democracy is more than simply an institutional responsibility that we exercise through formal voting during election time: it is a social and collective right that should be maintained, encouraged and attained by all. A direct and multi-levelled approach to participation within our university should be encouraged and exercised by students, staff, faculties, deans and administration in order to ensure that public opinion is reflected in the decision-making process. Universities are the sites for our collective engagement on issues that will have huge impacts in the future. It is time that we recognize our weaknesses in order to strengthen our prospects for collective development and growth of our futures. Anonymous
Board of Governors speech continued. Community members belonging to marginalized groups in society will be the most affected by these tuition hikes. Raising tuition fees makes it less accessible for these groups to obtain an education. Single parents, women, students with disabilities, international students, aboriginal students, radicalized students, students from the gay community are all groups that will be heavily affected by such increases and we need to fight for these groups specifically. If I was speaking to the board of governors right now, I would urge them to hear the voices of students, the thousands of people that make up this university. We, the Students for Change and the University of Windsor students want to work WITH the administration to demand the Provincial government increase public funding for education. We also want to urge the community to never stop the fight for more accessible education for everyone. Education is a RIGHT and we should never lose sight of that. Knowledge is empowerment and without accessible education, we ultimately become powerless. Raising tuition fees is not only a “student problem” but it is also a “societal problem.” Accessible, affordable education betters ALL members of the community. We, the students at the University of Windsor urge the board of governors NOT to balance the books off the backs of students and vote AGAINST the budget committee’s tuition fee proposal! By Lauren Quinn Get involved! The University of Windsor Drop Fees Coalition meets Saturdays at 2 pm in the CAW Center Commons. Come out and get involved! Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org Got Something to Say? Share your stories and opinions with The Student Movement. E-mail submissions to email@example.com