Is decreasing tuition for all the right approach?
One of Ehima Osazuwa’s main platform points is “Let’s Talk Tuition”, a point that resonates with many students. His platform states that “affordable tuition and decreased student debt is a vision we will accomplish in McMaster by implementing [this plan].”
Osazuwa’s twitter account also emphasizes this point, seen in a tweet sent on Jan. 22 that states “I will plant the seed to lower tuition #forwardtogether”.
“I will plant the seed to lower tuition” #forwardtogether
— Ehima (@ehima2015) January 22, 2015
However, the idea of lowering tuition for all students might not be the best way to approach this issue. MSU VP (Education) Rodrigo Narro Perez often deals with issues concerning tuition, and offers a different approach.
“If you have a willing and qualified student who cannot afford to go to school, then that’s where you should focus,” he said. He suggests that tuition should be looked at from an equitable standpoint, instead of aiming for equality.
An alternative to Osazuwa’s platform would be focusing on providing discounts for students who demonstrate financial need, not on the almost impossible goal of lowering tuition for all students.
Most importantly, when reading into the details of Osazuwa’s platform, he does not necessarily plan to decrease tuition, making his previous tweet quite misleading.
Looking at the real plan
Instead of lowering tuition, his actual plan aims to put together a committee on the SRA that “looks into equipping students with tools and knowledge on tuition and how to ease the burden.”
It also looks at implementing a plan to reduce the cost of textbooks by working with the university to create guidelines that professors must follow when introducing new editions of the textbook. Professors would be required to give reasons why a new edition of a textbook is necessary over the older version.
The committee could be a great addition to McMaster; however, it may be redundant, as the External Affairs Committee at McMaster already deals with issues such as tuition, among other things.
His second point about mandating guidelines for professors about which textbooks they can use is much less feasible.
It would be very difficult to enforce a “strict regulation” for textbooks. The VP (Education) Perez provided several more feasible solutions.
Perez suggests that the MSU could encourage professors to use coursewares or post publicly available journals instead of using new textbooks.
He also mentioned a project by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, who is currently lobbying to bring a unique system used in B.C. to Ontario.
“In B.C., there’s something called the Open Educational Resources,” said Perez. “[The B.C. government] funded the textbooks for most of the first year and some second year courses, and now they are free,” said Perez.
Encouraging courseware, the use of publicly available journals, and lobbying for a different system are all unique ways to approach the issue of expensive textbooks. Osazuwa’s plan to work with the university to enforce regulation is a difficult plan, which could be better replaced by a more feasible alternative.
Overall, Osazuwa should be more cautious when explaining his Let’s Talk Tuition platform point. The two-part plan consists of an SRA committee and the enforcement of a textbook guideline for professors.