Student Commission, YCL-LJC
Each year, often in April, Board of Governors (BoG) vote to increase tuition fees in post-secondary institutions across Canada. Corporate controlled BoGs do this despite opposition from students and workers, and the YCL-LJC stands in solidarity with students and workers organizing to stop tuition fee increases.
BoGs are highly undemocratic: they include a minority of students and workers on campuses across Canada, with a majority of their members often representing big business, including banks that profit from student loans! They use the excuse that they have to increase fees because of a lack of provincial and federal government funding for post-secondary education. However, students rightly push back by saying that freezing tuition fees at local colleges and universities will put pressure on federal and provincial governments to provide more public funding for post-secondary education, which is very much needed
We don’t have to get into the depressing numbers of how high tuition fees are and how much student debt we have to let you know post-secondary education is chronically underfunded, shuts countless prospective students out, and is facing a crisis. Mental health issues on campuses across Canada are multiplying, as shown by the tragic suicides by students, which happen each year. Food bank usage by students is soaring as we have to choose between paying for textbooks or paying for rent. Despite this crisis, senior administrators, and corporate BoG members will not freeze tuition fees, unless they are faced with mass pressure from students and workers.
When we demand universities and colleges stop raising tuition fees, corporate fatcats on the BoGs together with senior administrators, caring more about their careers than the students they are supposed to serve, will claim that education is accessible when scholarships and student loans are added to the equation. “Tuition fees actually aren’t that bad!” They will also argue that they need to increase tuition fees for the quality of education to be maintained, and for workers wages to “increase.” Our response to this is simple: Tuition fees are a form of regressive taxation, leaving out and causing more debt for countless working class and marginalized students; there is no correlation between high tuition fees and quality of education; and finally, we will not be divided. If campus bigwigs cared about workers, they would care to better their working conditions and increase their wages, instead of countless examples of campus management treating workers horribly, including contracting out their work, as we have seen for custodial workers across Ontario, or refusing to provide a 15 dollar wage for food service and other workers on many campuses. These semi-privatized, post-secondary institutions leave behind workers and students, especially racialized, LGBTQ*, women students and workers, and students and workers with disabilities.
Free Education Now!
As students and workers, we need free, fully accessible and public education. We must fight on every front to win free education, the cancellation of student debt, and for a democratic and emancipatory curriculum in the public interest, not constrained by the designs of big business. Free education and a roll-back of privatization is not only possible across Canada, but necessary. Unfortunately the “priorities” of governments across Canada are providing profitable opportunities for the corporate class they represent. There is always money for war and corporate profits, but not for education. The IMF estimates that there is $680 billion in corporate savings in Canada being left uninvested. The corporate tax rate has been cut in half in less than 20 years. Each year Canada spends over $20 billion on the military, and Trump and Trudeau are now talking about how to increase this obscene number as the world heads towards expanded imperialist wars. Meanwhile, it would only cost $10 billion to provide free education for all university and college students across Canada. Post-secondary institutions themselves should side with students and workers to demand increased funding, not act as austerity and privatization managers on behalf of pro-corporate governments.
We need universities that are democratically controlled, with budgets and curriculum controlled by students and workers. To get to our goal, let’s fight tuition fees locally, and use this to help us build a Pan-Canadian student movement that can unite students for demands at the provincial and federal level for free education for all!
Join the 25th Che Brigade!
Since 1993, the Ernesto Che Guevara Volunteer Work Brigade has offered hundreds of Canadians the opportunity to join an exciting and informative 2-week tour of Cuba. Volunteers are afforded a first-hand view of the gains and victories of the Cuban Revolution through both a tour of significant historical and political locales of Cuba and by working alongside ordinary Cubans. The next Brigade leaves in Spring 2017.