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Substance before style

Think of the student support this building gobbled up./ Brett Nielsen
Think of the student support this building gobbled up./ Brett Nielsen

U of R, renovate thine existing self!

Before I start off, I would like to say that I am ignorant as to the legality of the U of R redistributing its campus renewal funds in the manner I suggest later on.

The University of Regina has cancelled its plans to renovate the College Ave. campus, leaving them with five million dollars they have collected over a number of years. At this time of austerity throughout the university, this five million could be put toward student aid rather than renovating a building most students do not use.

We stand on the precipice of another provincial budget which is sure to have more austerity for our post-secondary institutions with a property tax hike to pay for the education funds the government re-allocated to infrastructure. These taxes are not simply absorbed by landlords; they materialize as increased rent for tenants – thousands of which are university students.

The provincial government has imposed these conditions on school administrators who are all too compliant with these funding cuts. Saskatchewan students saw little gain over years of Saskatchewan Party surpluses, which included tuition increases for nearly all post-secondary students. Wall’s Sask Party spin-doctors have lured people from around the world with the supposed Saskatchewan Advantage.

This Advantage has included an infant mortality rate almost three per cent higher than the national average, a top corporate tax rate that Revenue Canada listed as 12 per cent, and annual tuition increases. These individual factors all directly affect the lives of young people in Saskatchewan who must some day have children, pay taxes of one’s own, and find work. Have young people not suffered enough at the hands of the Saskatchewan Party’s inept financial management and social conservatism?

One is told that tax cuts for business will create jobs, and tax cuts for the rich will create more businesses. Young people who had no choice but to buy into the Saskatchewan (Dis)Advantage now find themselves studying at a university under a hiring freeze. With little hope to find academic employment here, many will go elsewhere – losing out on the one thing the Saskatchewan Party government has done for post-secondary students in a supposed time of plenty – the Graduate Retention tax rebate or whatever.

By providing students with aid at this time of austerity and rising cost of living, the university could make a tangible gesture of goodwill to its students by redistributing shares of this collected money to each student affected by Saskatchewan’s fiscal mismanagement. The money collected comes from Regina’s moneyed elderly and would be welcomed by any student struggling to pay rising tuition under slowing economic growth. By making this money available to students in need, it would not reverse eight years of regressive policies by the Wall government, which have seen a marked decline in the funding of our post-secondary institutions while offering tax vacations to our wealthiest individuals and most profitable businesses, but it would be welcomed by students.

Alternatively, fairly compensating professors for their work would be a good idea. While bureaucratic staff personnel have multiplied in recent years, full time professorial jobs have dried up outside of a few “chosen” faculties. There are a lot of great uses for five million dollars, and if the university is not compelled to give it back to the donors, I have a lot of suggestions for possible uses other than what is being discussed.

About John Kapp