Here’s a quarter, get a spine

Spines. Yes I said spines, or more specifically the lack thereof.

Recently, in one of my classes we were presented with a plea to go sign a petition in order to fight tuition hikes. I turned to my friend and asked about her thoughts on the topic.

Her opinion, to my surprise, was completely contrary to mine. She actually believed that students are lucky to pay as little tuition as we do. After all, we only pay 20 – 30 per cent of our education (depending on whose calculations you use) and that’s low compared to our neighbour to the south, the United States.

I countered with statistics on graduating students’ debt load, percentages of students who must work part-time to pay for their education and how that part-time work in turn causes their education to suffer, and piles and piles of standard student interest group talk.

When I finished my speech, my friend simply replied, “I understand your point of view, but I think you’re wrong.”

This perplexed me. Most people don’t weigh others’ arguments before presenting their own. As a result, I ended up looking at her views and started listening rather than spouting off my own opinion.

By examining her views I found fault in my own; I didn’t believe in anything I had said.

I write for the Gauntlet and thus am frequently exposed to the very vocal Students’ Union-the supposed representatives of “students’ views.” As a result I have blindly accepted their standard views on tuition. Even though I don’t agree with them, I found myself spouting their dogma.

Why is this?

The only answer I can come up with is that I have no spine. I’ve jumped on the anti-tuition bandwagon without a second thought about my own views.

I realized that this happens with many things in my life. I’ve veered away from things that seem socially unacceptable and toward things that keep me happily in that gray area of “normality.”

I’ve insulted friends who play Dungeons and Dragons and Magic, and have openly scoffed at another office member who listens to the Backstreet Boys.

To those who truly believe that tuition is too high, kudos to you, provided that those opinions are your own. And to anyone who likes Magic and Backstreet, I applaud you. People like me who don’t express their originality are merely ignorant.

If you have an opinion or a preference, stand up, grow a spine and express it. Don’t look at anyone else, use your own free will.

This isn’t supposed to be an opinion on tuition, it’s intended to be a confession and a warning. Guard against your own susceptibility, think for yourself, and stay the hell off the bandwagons. It’s a choice between being a man or being a sheep, and I for one promise to bleat as little as possible from now on.

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