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For the Wynne: ​Carleton Board of Governors back lower tuition

Carleton BoGby Sarah Musa

Two campus groups have successfully pressured the highest-decision making body at Carleton University to openly lobby for lower tuition by approving an open letter to the administration on Jan. 29.

The Carleton University Student Action Movement (CUSAM) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) joined efforts to spearhead a campaign to freeze tuition fees locally and call on the Ontario Government for a province-wide fee reduction.

The letter was a result of a motion passed by the BOG in March 2014, moved by then ­student representative Sarah Cooper, calling on Carleton to draft an open letter alongside the GSA calling for “an immediate, fully­funded reduction in tuition fees.” The BOG defeated Cooper’s additional motion calling for a tuition fee freeze at Carleton.

At the same meeting, Cooper delivered to the board 1,200 postcards signed by Carleton students over less than six weeks leading up to the March 2014 meeting. These postcards outlined the demands of the campaign.

After the exchange of several drafts between the GSA and University President Roseann Runte, both parties agreed upon the current draft of the letter, which addressed student debt and international student fees.

“This is a huge success for students of Ontario. We are trailblazers. We are the first university in the province to publicly request a fully­funded reduction in tuition fees. This movement was inspired by the students at the Ontario College of Arts and Design, who likewise pressured their university to publish an open letter of similar nature,” Adam Carroll, one of the lead organizers for CUSAM, told the Leveller.

The campaign was supported by the Canadian Federation of Students, the largest student advocacy group in the country.

“It is our hope that Carleton University can be a leader in Ontario. We will be encouraging other post­secondary institutions to join Carleton in calling on the province to increase their investment in education.”

CUSAM volunteer Samiha Rayeda added that the letter marked “one step in a broader provincial campaign to fight for more accessible education.”

“The Carleton University Student Action Movement and the GSA will continue to work with students across campus and across the province to escalate pressure on the government until our demands are met,” she added.

The original letter presented by CUSAM and the GSA faced substantial edits by Runte, Rayeda said.

The administration acknowledged the importance of public funding for education, and that
high tuition rates are a barrier to quality and accessible education. However, Rayeda said the university has yet to demonstrate their commitment to the cause by taking responsibility and implementing a tuition freeze in the midst of a $69 million revenue surplus.

“We wish that the current Board of Governors’ committee on student affordability will provide thoughtful proposals to how Carleton can finance a tuition freeze,” Rayeda explained. “While the province drags its heels around combatting student poverty, we call on Carleton to practice what it’s preaching and enacting a tuition fee freeze.”

This article first appeared in the Leveller Vol. 7 No.5 (Feb/March 2015).

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