Is that what I said?
Editor in Chief Lucy MacDonald looks at the politics of using (or not using) your voice
I don’t remember being asked what I thought of higher tuition fees. In my eyes, this is a problem. I may not have much say in this year’s fashions; but as a young individual, I do feel as though I have a voice in the discussion on what I pay to earn my degree… and I feel that you do too.
Here at Cape Breton University, we have a Students’ Union. We have a system in place of committed people who work to contribute to students’ success during their time at university. Our Students’ Union started as an advocacy for students, but since then has shifted more to an activity based organization. This is a problem for students because issues that need to be raised aren’t raised, and no one is critiquing the university or other outside agents to make students’ lives better!
With a strong, engaged union we could be paying lower tuition fees, we could have free parking, and we could have a say in whatever else we wanted… like let’s say we wanted a bottle-free campus… a union could lobby with us to make this a reality.
Today, I don’t see these things happening. I see low voter turnout, candidates all campaigning on the same, ineffective platforms, and what’s worse- students’ needs not being met. This is a shame. Cape Breton has a long history of residents who stand up for themselves, who are heard, and who triumph. Moreover, we’re a minority in Cape Breton- we’re young. We should use our voices, because people will listen. This may sound cliché, but we are really and truly the future.
Take for instance, February 2’s Student Day of Action. Over 3,000 students marched in the middle of a blizzard to show the province that higher tuition fees are not okay, and for that matter, that going over $30,000 in debt is not okay. Of the 3,000 students there, Cape Breton University didn’t have a single person present.
Alison Haley, President of the CBU Students’ Union said, “the CBUSU was not involved in the Day of Action because it is largely a CFS (Canadian Federation of Students) event.” Instead, our Union is a member of ANSSA (The Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations).
ANSSA, Haley claims “looks at the bigger picture. We lobby the government for a debt cap, more student assistance, more needs based grands, non re-payable grants, a simpler student assistance program and to review the grad tax credit.”
While ANSSA’s platforms sound just, it begs the question: why didn’t we march alongside our peers, despite political affiliations to lobby for all of these things? As a student with a voice- I think there is strength in numbers, and I for one am NOT okay with an increase in tuition fees, or a decrease in funding.
In order to connect the dots, I’ll keep it simple: we must get more involved.
Without our input, we’re just passive receivers. We’re going to be handed much more than just a 3% tuition increase. We’re going to continually put into power both locally at our Union and nationally, people we don’t relate to- people who aren’t saying what we said.