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Halifax students stage tuition protest at premier’s dinner

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NS tuition fees ranked as third highest in the country

“We are here tonight to hold this government accountable,” said David Etherington to a group of students protesting tuition hikes.

Etherington, of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), spoke to a crowd of about 40 students, union workers and community allies at Monday’s protest.

The protesters stood outside the World Trade and Convention Centre on a cold night as the Liberal Party held their premier’s dinner inside. Tickets for the dinner were $300 a plate.

Named “The Game’s Rigged,” the protest was set up to resemble an obstacle course.

Obstacles included a high jump. At the lowest rung is what Finance Minister, Diana Whalen, would have paid when she was at university.

At the top rung, a level impossible to jump over, is what students currently pay.

Although rain and wind deterred the actual obstacle course, students covered their signs and banners in plastic to protect them. There was chanting, singing and drumming, all in an act to grab the Liberal Party’s attention.

“The next year is going to be hard,” said JD Hutton, board rep with the DSU, said at the event. “The Liberals have been threatening to make major cuts next year.”

“Shame!” The crowd responded.

“But students will fight back,” said Hutton. “Fight back!” The crowd echoed.

Nova Scotia has the third highest average undergraduate tuition in Canada. Michaela Sam, chairperson for CFS Nova Scotia and president of the King’s Student Union, says that’s not good enough.

“Students are tired of the Nova Scotia government telling us to stay here when they are doing nothing to make that a reality,” said Sam.

Hutton says the Nova Scotia government should go in the same direction that Newfoundland and Labrador has with education. Newfoundland recently turned 100 per cent of their student loans into non-repayable grants. Tuition fees in the province have been frozen since 1999.

Concluding her speech, Sam said “we need to show the government that students are an investment and not a cost for this province.”

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