By Amy Bourne
A survey mailed to 100,000 first-year students will lead to minority quotas at Ontario schools, says the University branch of the Progressive Conservative Party. Alex Lalka, president of the PC branch at the University of Toronto, says the information in the survey is being used to lobby the government for money for special needs groups. The survey, sent out by the Council of Ontario Universities, which represents university presidents asked students how they pay for university, whether they are aboriginal or part of a visible minority and any physical disabilities they might have.
“We have a problem with this because we believe in individuals, not groups,” said Lalka. “This is just the first step in a slippery-slope toward setting affirmative action quotas in universities.” Arnice Cadieux, spokesperson for the Council of Ontario Universities defended the survey. “The purpose of the survey is to understand the representation of applicants, and therefore provide universities with information to plan for programs and services for people in these groups,” she said. “The research can help us understand, for example how many blind people are applying to universities, and the we can find out what kind of services are available to them, and how we can improve those services, she said.
The University of Toronto PC Association issued a press release last month urging students not to fill out the survey to send a message to the Council of Ontario Universities. Catherine Zangger, 19 a first-year social work student at Ryerson, didn’t fill out the survey. “Who carers if I’m white or how much money my parents make,” she said. “The amount of money that goes to universities from the government should depend on the number of heads at the school, and it should be split equally between all groups.”
Sarah Brown, a first-year graphic communication management student at Ryerson filled out the questionnaire without knowing what it was for. She says she was offended by it. “I was bored and wanted to be pat of the survey,” said the 18-year-old. Many students say they remember receiving the survey, but simply discarded it as junk mail. The results will be tallied in late September.