Uvic Students Plan Tuition Boycott

Fees up 30.4 per cent this year

VICTORIA (CUP) — UVic students may be putting their bankbooks away next semester if the students’ society goes through with its plan to push a tuition fee boycott.

Early this semester, the students’ society at Simon Fraser University initiated a tuition fee boycott as a protest against rising tuition fees in British Columbia. The students’ society at the University of Victoria is planning something similar.

“The plan is simple. If the provincial government won’t pay our education, neither will we,” said Erin Hartson, a member of the Tuition Action Coalition at SFU.

The province has registered the country’s largest increase in average undergraduate fees for the second consecutive year in 2003-2004, according to Statistics Canada. Fees are up 30.4 per cent this year, after last year’s 25.7 per cent rise.

Geordie Dent, a spokesperson for the SFUSS, emphasized the need for action. “For the second year in a row, the provincial government has cut per student funding and has passed that funding cut onto students through massive tuition fee increases,” he said.

The intent behind this action is to force the government to consider the financial plight of many students. “The university will have to either negotiate with us to ensure our school is accessible, or begin lobbying the government for increased funding,” said Dent.

The students’ society at UVic is proposing a similar action to take place in January. “The UVSS recognizes that there are many students that want to do more than just attend a rally, so we are organizing the tuition fee boycott as one of the many tactics for students to express rising frustrations about increasing tuition fees,” said Joanna Groves, director of finance for the students’ society.

Students at both institutions will face financial penalties for participating in the boycott. At SFU, the impact appears to be minimal. If tuition is not paid by the deadline, the university charges a 2 per cent monthly interest rate, students may remain enrolled in classes, and there is no impact on their academic record.

The UVic accounting department has yet to summarize the consequences for students participating in a boycott, but said they would be comparable to those at SFU.

Response to the boycott at SFU has been overwhelming despite the possibility of fines. Currently 1500 students have agreed to participate in the boycott, depriving the university of $3 million in tuition.

The UVSS plans to go ahead with the boycott regardless of consequences.