The Dalhousie Student Union receives most of its funding from student fees.
Those fees go towards projects such as Student Union Building renovations, student societies, grants, loans, and campus services like Campus Copy and the Grawood. There seems to be confusion regarding where exactly our tuition money is going and how it’s being used, so the Dalhousie Gazette looked into this to try and see if the DSU really has our back.
Last November Dal and the DSU participated in the Canadian Federation of Student’s (CFS) All Out event, where students in Nova Scotia and across Turtle Island, rallied in order to protest the increase of tuition at post-secondary institutions. Nova Scotia is particularly infamous for rising tuition fees, according to Amina Abawajy, president of the DSU.
Because of this, the DSU is participating in events like All Out, where students are brought together to raise awareness on tuition fees. However, these types of events involve using student fees in order to participate.
In an email, the Vice-President of Finance and Operations, Chantal Khourey said the DSU spent $1313.0 on materials for All Out; the expenses covered only materials – no membership, participation, or any other fees were necessary. When asked where this money came from, Abawajy confirmed that it came from a variety of revenue sources, including student fees.
“Budgets are about priorities,” said Abawajy, when questioned about whether there’s a more cost-effective method of promoting reduced tuition fees. “If we’re prioritizing advocacy, we’re prioritizing campaigns. If we’re prioritizing advocacy and campaigns, we’re prioritizing this push towards accessible education. I think that with any project, resources are crucial and when we put money towards projects, we’re showing the importance and saying that this is a priority of the union.”
But there’s more to this than just how much the union cares about student advocacy. What must be considered is the impact of these actions, and whether or not these actions are inspiring change.
Abawajy also addressed this point.
“Change [doesn’t] happen overnight,” says Abawajy. “I don’t think that one rally will change everything, but I think that protests are a tactic among many other tactics that are used. I would say that our collective efforts does bring about change, but it’s hard to pinpoint this one thing to this one change.”
Change isn’t something that is obvious at a glance; it’s something that has to take root, grow, and when no one’s watching, it reveals itself.
The problem is, people don’t like waiting to see whether or not their actions and money will inspire change – they want to see results immediately.
We’re living in a world ruled by instant gratification. Where all you need to do to get that release of dopamine is post a picture on Instagram and wait for the likes to roll in.
So when people see a chunk of their tuition going towards something that may result in a lowering of tuition for future students? I can imagine why it would make some people upset, or at least ask questions.
So, should we spend money on signs for protests that may or may not inspire change?
It’s an interesting oxymoron, using tuition fees to pay for a movement that preaches reducing tuition. But it takes money to get anything done, and to get the word out.