By Mary Chan
University of Calgary students will pay an additional $188 for 10 half courses next year after the Board of Governors approved a five per cent increase Fri., Feb. 4 amidst noisy protests of student demonstrators.
The approval was a quick end to a morning of presentations by U of C Vice-president Finance and Operations Keith Winter, Graduate Students’ Association President David Bird, Students’ Union President Rob South and BoG student-at-large representative Anthony Leoni. At 9 a.m., about 60 protesters arrived outside the doors, chanting "Let us in" and "They won’t fucking listen."
As about 50 students watched inside the room, 15 protesters ran in shortly before the BoG voted on the tuition motion. They carried signs, whistles and drums, and disrupted the meeting for five minutes. Some went directly to U of C President Terry White and began yelling.
Not all students were impressed with the behaviour.
"It was pretty annoying to me, that students would compromise my standing and put forth things that I would never say," said second-year General Studies student Grant Strem, who left the meeting before it was over. "While everyone was making all this racket, they went through what the budget was like, and where the money was going and in my estimation it’s the government’s fault and these guys [board members] are in there getting yelled at. I think it’s ridiculous."
Before voting on the motion for five per cent (or 65 per cent of the maximum allowed by the province), Leoni moved to amend the motion to read zero per cent.
"I made [the motion] mostly because I’ve been contacted by hundreds of students, by e-mail and in person," said Leoni. "They’ve all said that they wanted me to do this, that they didn’t want any tuition increases."
The motion needed a seconder, but SU President Rob South did not second it and the motion failed. As a result, many students called for his impeachment at the end of the meeting.
"I’ve tried very hard this year to show the board that students and their leaders are willing to be responsible partners in their education and for that, I cannot move a motion that would see the university have an $8 million shortfall, nor can I speak against one," he said.
As a result of the increase, the U of C will receive an additional $3.6 million. A 100 per cent increase would have generated $5.6 million.
According to BoG member Charlie Fischer, the board sees the increase as a compromise.
"As a board member, our balance is to try to ensure that this institution continues to provide the quality that will ensure that students want to come here, and makes them employable and gives them a great education at the same time," he said.