Riding the Money Train

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By Allison Heather

It’s not secret that tuition has gone through the roof as the decades have gone by, but it’s interesting to note that us students are just as apathetic today as we were during the disco era.

Take the academic year of 1977-78, for example.  Academic fees had been frozen at $425 since 1972.  Dr. Harry Parrot, minister of colleges and universities, gave schools the “option” of increasing tuition by $100 for the following year.  Jim Packham, v.p. academic at the time, said that a refusal to raise fees would cost Ryerson approximately $1 million in lost revenue for 1977. T he tuition hike was to provide an additional $20 million required to meet the overall funding level recommended by the Ontario Council on University Affairs.  NDP leader, Stephen Lewis, said that an increase would be acceptable if the student aid program improved.

The Ontario Federation of Students (OFS) called for a province-wide, half-day boycott of classes for Feb. 10, 1977.  Instead, Kevin Schwenker, Ryerson’s student union president, held a rally on Feb. 16 in Kerr Hall’s $251 that included a debate between Dale Martin, OFS, and a representative of the Ontario government.

Thirty-five students showed up, a disappointing number at best, and by 1979, tuition was up to $559 per year — a $134 increase.

A similar incident happened just this year.  On March 30 of this year, RyeSAC held an emergency meeting for Ryerson students, faculty and staff in the Hub, followed by a visit to the board of governors meeting to present petitions and a motion to freeze tuition fees for the 1998/99 academic year.  100 people turned up for the Hub, and 60 went the extra mile to the board of governors meeting.

One hundred people, out of more than 14,000 full-time students is approximately 7 per cent of the student population.  In 1978, 35 out of more than 8,000 full-time student is approximately 4 per cent of the student population.

Given these numbers, maybe we are caring more.  Maybe in another 50 years, if tuition multiplies another 157 times and raises tuition to $614,029 per year, an additional 3 per cent of the student body will show they give a rat’s ass and fight against eternal tuition hikes.

Maybe.

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