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Students march for National Day of Action Minister of Training Glen Murray comes to campus to address Liberal tuition grant

Approximately 200 students, faculty and union members took to the streets against high tuition fees as part of the National Day of Action • photo m.n. malik

stephen hargreaves NEWS EDITOR gord bacon ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR ______________________________

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crowd of about 200 students, faculty and members of campus union groups took to the street Feb. 1 at 11:30 a.m. for a rally and march against high tuition fees as part of the National day of Action.

Before departing on a campus wide march at 12:10 p.m., speakers encouraged students to “ask the hard questions” of Glen Murray, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, who is the talking-head behind the 30 per cent Ontario Tuition Rebate.

was designed to give students coming out of high school greater accessibility to post-secondary education. He said, the Liberal government has added over 200,000 seats to colleges and universities since 2003 at a cost of over $6.2 billion. Murray said, most students who don’t qualify for the grant, such as graduate and medical students, get paid as part of there studies through residencies and graduate assistant teaching. Some mature students may even qualify for a second career grant that covers up to $28,000 of their education, he said.

Organization of Part-time University Students member and event co-organizer Vajo Stajic, lead the crowd in chants of, “Education is a right, we will not give up the fight.” Mohammad Akbar, University of Windsor Students’ Alliance Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences representative, motivated the growing collective with, “Students are under attack. What do we do? Unite and fight back!”

“Students five years ago had a very good chance of being turned away from university. Students said to us at the time, student aid and affordability are important but accessibility is more important. There’s no benefit to getting a student grant if it’s a grant that isn’t attached to an education,” said Murray. “We would love to have free education, we would love to have all kinds of things that we aspire to, but if we don’t do it in a strategic way, without the right priorities, its not going to work.”

“There is absolutely no reason that the operating expenses of this university should fall on the backs of students,” said Windsor University Faculty Association president Brian Brown, who addressed the excited group.

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Stajic called out Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals and what he called the false promises of a tuition freeze, the ineligibility of 64 per cent of students for the Liberal’s 30 per cent tuition grant and their scholarship cuts totaling $150 million. Students are calling for a 13 per cent tuition cut for all students, rather than the present 30 per cent cut that excludes part-time students, mature students, international students, students in a second entry program (including law, medicine and teachers college) and students whose parent or parents make over $160,000 annually. “Debt for students is a serious problem,” said Cecil Houston, dean of Arts and Social Sciences, who quietly watched the rally from the foot of Chrysler Hall Tower. “Their message is appropriate; the unreasonable funding of education has the future of postsecondary education at stake.”

The bottom line is that government can’t give everyone a break on tuition and can’t roll-back tuition costs, he said.

Glen Murray, minister of Training, Colleges and Universities addresses UWindsor students. (top right) Students unveil a banner to Murray in protest • photos m.n. malik

Glen Murray responds

Murray addressed questions raised by protestors less than 24 hours after the National Day of Action protests subsided. Appearing in front of close to 60 administrators, students and media for what was publicized as a question and answer style town hall meeting in the CAW Student Centre commons, Murray jumped right into the answer portion by addressing concerns raised by protestors.

But fourth-year political science student Meghan Mills was disappointed with what Murray had to say. “He didn’t explain why so many students didn’t qualify for the grant itself and he didn’t address the alternative ways of how he could have distributed it to more students in a more effective way,” Mills said. “[The Ontario government] basically took the money out of certain students pockets by cutting things like the Queen Elizabeth Grant and then fed it to other students.” According to Murray, the tuition grant

“Why are we spending over $9 billion on the prison system when we have one of the lowest crime rates in the world?,” said Murray, who pointed out that universities are already struggling with operating costs, so cutting tuition income rather than obtaining more provincial funding is not the most immediate answer. “Maybe this is naive, but I was hoping he was going to say we know there have been a lot of concerns based on what students were saying at the National Day of Action and we’re going to revisit the plan. Perhaps look at the criteria closely and maybe examine some alternative routes to get students the funding they need,” Mills said. “I felt he was very dismissive.”

Profile for The Lance

Issue 21, Volume 84 - The Lance  

The Lance is the official student newspaper of the University of Windsor and the second largest newspaper in the city! The newspaper offers...

Issue 21, Volume 84 - The Lance  

The Lance is the official student newspaper of the University of Windsor and the second largest newspaper in the city! The newspaper offers...

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