The Empire Strikes Back

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By Josh Visser

Over the last week, The Eyeopener has learned of possibly hundreds of students suffering a variety of fee-related problems. Mysterious late fees for courses not taken, tuition fees recalculated several times over and unhelpful staff are the most common complaints.

And it’s not just one program either — business, engineering, image arts and alas, journalism students have all reported problems above and beyond the typical troubles with RAMSS.

Journalism students in their final year of studies (including me) were pleasantly surprised in early August when RAMSS said that tuition fees would be $4100 for the year.

But like all good things, that came to a quick and untimely end.

In late August, Ashleigh Patterson, a final-year student in Ryerson’s two-year post-graduate program, found out her tuition had jumped to $4823.

“I paid the $4823 in full, but on Sept. 19, RAMSS said that I owed an additional $718,” Patterson said. “There was no communication from (the student fees office) to tell me that, though.”

She said that she went to the Student Fees and Cashiers Office and was told the new fee, affecting about 60 students in Patterson’s program, has “nothing to do” with the department but was set by the journalism program.

However, journalism chair Paul Knox said the school had no role in the fee increase.

“The School of Journalism has not increased any fees, or done anything that should result in an increase in fees. The School (of Journalism) does not determine tuition fees,” Knox wrote.

When I called Knox, he was adamant that this problem “is the student fees (office’s) baby.”

I spent 20 minutes listening to obnoxious classical music while on hold trying to talk to someone at the Student Fees office. Geez, it’s like they’re a big, unthoughtful, understaffed bureaucracy or something.

I finally got a hold of Keith Alnwick, Ryerson registrar and a rather friendly chap. He forwarded me a copy of the email that was being prepared to be sent out to journalism students regarding their tuition problems.

In short, the email said, “it’s our fault, your problem.”

They are giving us until Oct. 31 to pay the remaining amount and are looking into how this is going to affect OSAP, to be fair.

But I can’t help but think of a classmate’s question in an email: “Has anyone ever experienced such a poorly run administration? I know I haven’t.”

My answer is simple. I’ve attended two other universities and never had as many administrative hassles as I’ve had at Ryerson.

And speaking anecdotally with other graduate students, they never had such problems in their undergraduate degrees, either.

“There’s always going to be a few mistakes in a large administration,” Patterson said. “But I’ve never heard of anything so flagrant.”

The point is that students at Ryerson are not treated like customers paying for a service. Instead, we are expected to act like a bunch of schmucks and keep paying extra fees every time we are undercharged or have fees change.

I called Ryerson’s Ombudsman and they told me they put out a report in January regarding student complaints. If you have had problems with your tuition I encourage you to call or email us and them and make yourself heard.

We deserve better.

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