No magic ice cream for you

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 If we want a better world, then maybe we have to do something to get there

The average cost of university tuition across Canada is, at present, $5,366 for a single year of full-time studies. Within Saskatchewan, we pay a slightly higher rate ($5,601 on the average year) for our education, while students in Quebec pay – for the same study period – a whopping $2,519. Yet even though their education is already much more affordable than the national average, students in Quebec remain thoroughly adamant in demanding that tuition be lowered even further, advocating for what they want through widespread activism, protesting, and strike action.

There are likely a couple of reasons why students in Quebec have taken this action. First, they are students like us and they are, by definition, increasingly cash-strapped. Their debt, in the eyes of a young adult, looks like an eternity of financial damnation. Second and more importantly, our comrades in Quebec, having taken to protesting and real activism, must be acutely aware of the fact that students and accessible education are both crucial foundations of good future and thereby better for everyone.

Meanwhile across Canada, some are envious or otherwise put at unease by Quebec’s student activists and their willingness to strive for change. Simultaneously, some are critical of – rather than inspired by – the activism and energy with which Quebeckers are making inroads toward a better future while we seem content to remain somewhat apathetical and lethargic in our own, far more costly situation. If education is, for society, a fruitful tree of ice-cream, students in Quebec are obviously busied with vigorous gardening techniques and carefully tending to their magical plant. We in Saskatchewan, on the other hand, seem to have supposed our magical tree will simply find its own watering and then casually uproot itself to lumber over whatever distance and hand-deliver us the bowls of tasty ice-cream fruit that we desire up here on our breezy sunporch.

Here in the open plains of Saskatchewan, we seem to sometimes find ourselves simply swamped, overwhelmed in the sheer vastness of opportunity. Here, there is yet so much open space for voicing our concerns, for developing discussions and fruitful networks of communications, and plots are available for growing all sorts of magical trees. Here, we certainly have as much reason to be discontented – if not much more – since our education costs are currently two times more expensive than those found in Quebec! Not only that, ours our rising up to nine per cent per year in some faculties. Yet, Quebeckers are the ones we see projected in a negative light for effectively demanding the fulfillment of needs while we have chosen to spend perhaps a majority of our time in the spectator seats, watching through the eyes of the media and accordingly misunderstanding the truth of the events.

There appears to be at least three directions we can look toward from our own eyes with respect to the rising cost of our own tuition: First, we can further criticize students in Quebec for acting consciously in their own interest while we, comfortable in our armchairs, side lazily with interests which are not even our own. Second, we could promote that we, too, value accessible, affordable education and foster relevant communications between our student body, the university, and governmental bodies. Or, lastly, we can move ourselves into a strike/protest position as the students in Quebec have done to more vigorously affect change.

We need to think for ourselves in our own situation. We should always think critically about how events are portrayed in the media – not only Quebec’s student movement, but all events from our local sphere outward (including those presented in the Carillon). Meanwhile, we should strive to foster a healthy, robust discussion amongst ourselves and in doing so promote awareness to our own, most relevant concerns, continuously re-establishing a healthy conduit through which individuals can express their ideas and contribute their thoughts (and energy) to the matter. If we intend to simply scorn others for working hard to make the world a better place for everyone, then we might as well save a breath and shut the fuck up.

Dustin Christianson
Contributor

1 comment

  1. Tom 28 September, 2012 at 15:44

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    University tuition costs are out of control as well here in the states with 20 grand a year not being uncommon. I find these costs to be driven more by professors making 175K a year for 1 class a week and degrees in stuff that have no practical application in the real world. Cut government funding and they will have to operate in the real world where what they provide is actually demanded in the job market.

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