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Monday, September 5, 2011

Education is a Privilege

Article Published in The Charlatan

The article titled “Ontario Tuition Fees on the Rise: StatsCan” by Peter McCartney in issue seven of the Charlatan represents the continued inept and irresponsible management of Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) here at Carleton University.

It has become so easy for many students to complain and whine about their education being too expensive.

Students are indoctrinated with this concept from the moment they arrive on campus: CFS often pairs its insignia with “Drop Fees” and CUSA follows suit like sheep.

The “Education is a right” campaign is the latest example of ill judgment and flat-out incompetence.

Start out with young, impressionable students, add a natural anger that school is expensive, and compound this anger with a few annoying students with bullhorns. You’re quickly left with thousands of misinformed students who rally behind a false cause.

Education is not a right. Plain and simple.

Thousands of people succeed in their fields without any education past high school.

Education is a privilege we hold here as relatively wealthy, privileged Canadians.  Education is an option to those who wish to pursue higher education: a higher level of thinking, a higher level of performance, and a different outcome of employment when their degree is complete.

This does not make education a right: I have yet to see even the United Nations declare post-secondary schooling a right.

It is a very serious issue for CUSA to be throwing around the term “right“ on something like post-secondary education. If post-secondary education became a right in our society, it would mean the society has an obligation to give a student a post-secondary education, no matter whether they actually work for it or not.

Let’s not forget that Canadians maintain relatively cheap tuition compared to our southern neighbour. In the U.S., a 2008-2009 College Board study shows the average tuition to be $6,585 – almost $1,400 more than the Canadian average.

In an article, “Not making the grade”, published by Metro News on Sept. 26, Deanne Fisher, director of student life at University of Toronto, said, “The primary barrier to success for first-year students is not financial, it’s their own academic performance.”  Is this any surprise?

Dina Skvirsky, CUSA vice-president (student issues) says she wants the federal government to take responsibility for education costs.  She forgets that a) the article is targeting Ontario as having its tuition fees on the rise; and b) that education is a provincial responsibility, not federal.

Rather than rallying behind false causes, why not attack some real issues?

Why doesn’t our student government rally against the U-Pass, which added a mandatory $290 to students’ tuition even though many students drive, walk, or seldom use the bus?

Why doesn’t our student government ask why, even though OC Transpo now has increased revenues from every student buying a bus pass, they have not increased service to and from campus?

Why doesn’t our student government lobby for more effective services on campus? Rather than targeting tuition fees as being the root of all evil, why don’t we target OSAP policies which require a students’ parental income information to be included in their assessment, even if the parent is not helping the student with university costs?

Let’s get behind some real issues, and actually make our student government effective.