When I saw the “Stop You’ve Paid Enough” posters being put up around campus during Welcome Week I couldn’t help but feel excited. Finally McMaster was going to do something about our ever-rising tuition rates, finally we were going to take a note from our Quebecois friends and protest for a freeze in our tuition, to stop the cost from rising at least for a few years. But upon looking on the McMaster Students Union website, I became disappointed.
Apparently we haven’t paid enough for tuition, save for certain instances. The “Stop You’ve Paid Enough” page on the McMaster Students Union website is not a plan for protest or a plan of action to stop the rising tuition costs, it is a page for students to report unfair fees they may have inappropriately been charged with for a course.
The “Stop You’ve Paid Enough” campaign is a good thing. I imagine there are a good number of students at McMaster who have been charged inappropriately for certain courseware, textbooks, supplies and field-trip costs. I hope these students are successful in getting some kind of return, though I imagine it will be difficult for a fourth year student to prove that they were charged with one of these unfair fees in their first year.
I understand why the McMaster Students Union advertised this way; it works in getting the attention of fools like me who actually expected some sort of change in tuition rates. If anything I now know that the rising cost of tuition is the furthest thing from the MSU’s mind, making banners that allude to change only to call out a certain percentage of students who have been charged with unfair fees. There is no talk of freezing tuition rates, no mention of how much your tuition rose, there is no talk of change.
During the 2013/2014 academic year Ontario undergraduate students paid the highest average fee of $7,259 with Saskatchewan close behind while Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador undergraduate students continue to have the lowest average fees in Canada.
I wonder why Ontario undergraduates don’t listen to the Quebec undergraduates and protest for a tuition freeze. What is it that makes us so different? What makes student unions in Quebec different than student unions in Ontario? That one union can protest and win while the other accepts the forever growing debt we will be stuck with at the end of our academic life.
So yes, having the McMaster Student’s Union ready to help students who have been given unfair fees in previous or current classes is a good thing. But don’t advertise like a dramatic change is being made, don’t make us believe that you might actually be doing something about our tuition rate.
We, the students of McMaster, have paid enough for tuition, but not in the eyes of our union. And I don’t know how long it will take before they realize that we really have paid enough.