Dalhousie

Listen up, old man

Societal attitudes towards the cost of university education must change

Listen up, old man
2011 cover of the Gazette. Photo by Michael Cestnik.
written by Olivier Chagnon
February 11, 2016 11:48 pm

With the recent news of a proposed hike in tuition fees by Dalhousie, it’s more important than ever for students to rally and unify against the rising costs of post-secondary education. Education cannot be considered a commodity; it’s a bloody right. I protested in Quebec back in 2012 when Charest proposed a tuition hike and I will protest here.

Education should be free. Yeah, free. Education should be a social economic burden and not a private economic burden. The most progressive nations in the world all agree on this and the results demonstrate the effectiveness of the system.

We lack a tremendous amount of collectivism in our nation and our constant refusal to share the responsibility of the education of our youth is not only an economic problem, and a social problem but most importantly an ideological problem.

We take so much pride in telling ourselves that we are different from our southern neighbors but it’s policies likes this that prove that we are no better than them. If we continue on the path of privatization and elitization of education, then we are destined to the same doom as the U.S. In 2008, the U.S was hit by the housing bubble, several economists are now claiming that the next economic crisis to hit the U.S will be due to the exorbitant amount of student debt citizens have collected over the past years. Why can’t we learn from their mistakes? We are going down the same path as them; our housing market is off the charts (just look at prices in Vancouver) and tuition keeps climbing, to the great pleasure of universities.

This is blatant discrimination against the lower and middle classes. Universities are consciously blocking access to higher education to an enormous amount of potential students, all of whom will be deterred by the forever-increasing tuition fees.

As a society, we need to realize that fewer students in university means less graduates. Less graduates, less jobs and less taxes and thus more government cutbacks. I don’t claim to be an economist, but this seems like common sense.

So next time you complain about increasing taxes, Old Man, think about the next time you’ll thank your doctor for healing your old bones—that doctor just might be one of the young interns whose education your taxes could have paid for. Imagine if education were free. Imagine how many chances you give to those lower and middle class students that simply can’t afford it.  Imagine how many more doctors, engineers or scientists could potentially spill out of this untapped population.

I heard a lot of criticism when I was in Quebec protesting against the tuition hike. I’ve been told that we were just a bunch of spoiled brats, hippies, etc. Name the insult and I can guarantee you I’ve heard it. Call us what you want Old Man but our generation is laying the groundwork for a more equitable future for everyone. I have no problem with paying taxes and you shouldn’t either because it isn’t just for us “spoiled university brats” but it’s also for your daughter next time she goes to the hospital because she broke her arm riding her bike.

We need a collective change of mind and we need to do what’s necessary to protect fundamental rights such as education from money mongering universities. So come out and protest, yell, make a smart-ass sign, whatever you want, it’s fun and it’s necessary. I’ll see you there.

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