Life at U of T is not always easy. Sometimes, you might say that we go to the University of Hard Knocks. Alternatively, you might say we go to Ball So Hard university, because we are that awesome.
Rent, books, tuition and commuting don’t come cheap. Throw all that stuff in with the stress of keeping up with school and it can be a lot to handle. Solidarity with all my students in the struggle. When we have to tighten our belts, it’s easy to get frustrated with the situation befalling us. It seems as though sometimes, we are paying more and more for our education and are getting less and less. It’s an argument I hear reverberate across the lecture halls and common rooms of our campus. Sometimes though I hear a different variation of this argument. It goes something like this.
“Hey Joey! Did you catch the Varsity Blues game last night?”
“Ya, Steph. I did. Crazy eh? Western lost like a bazillion to nothing.”
Shane walks in.
“Varsity Blues? Is he that new kid who sits in the front of our ANT100 class?”
Audience laughs hysterically.
“No, Shane. It’s our school team. Didn’t you go to the pep rally?”
“Oh please, Steph. I only frequent the finest pre-[insert professional program here] clubs on campus. I don’t participate in such games. Why do I have to pay for people to score touchdowns in quidditch hoops.”
“Oh, Shane. Let’s go to Starbucks before we head to Professor Radditch’s class.”
And with that our heroes join the line of other tired students at the Robarts Starbucks establishment. Stay tuned for the next episode of U of T: The Next Generation.
THUMBS UP FOR BAD DEGRASSI REFERENCES.
This is a discussion I hear far too often at U of T. Students complaining about how they have to pay for services they don’t use. Often, the argument goes: I don’t have a lot of cash to spend, so why should I spend it on services I don’t use? Why can’t we make all levy fees opt-in as opposed to opt-out? At the surface, this looks like a rather compelling argument. I mean, who doesn’t want to save money? But upon further inspection, such an approach would do some serious damage to our already fragile student life at U of T.
First off, U of T is a big school with a lot of services. As such, running those services, whether they are administered by the university, the UTSU or our student groups, is a costly venture. If students wanted to form a club on campus, but could only find 10-15 students that shared their interest, under an opt-in system – nobody would be able to get clubs funding. Services like the Athletic Centre and Hart House would become pricey and vital campus media outlets like the Varsity and CIUT would also likely fold due to lack of funds. U of T operates like a government – you might not get to experience everything that you pay for, but your fees help to add to the sense of community U of T has and the student experience here. Also, if you had to pay individually for the services, you would be less likely to pay for them. Under the current system, because you pay for the services with your tuition, you get to experience all U of T has to offer without restriction of individual memberships and payments for things.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have say in what you fund. There are some things that you can opt-out of, if you disagree with its funding. You also have a say in whether levy fees get extended or introduced and that brings me to my final point. Next week, the Varsity is having a student referendum on whether to extend its levy fee by $1.00 Regardless of your position on the issue; you should vote and let yourself be heard.
While I think the cost of education is way too high, I think our efforts are best directed at tuition fees themselves and not the services we pay for. Doing the latter implies that for students to get financial relief, they must sacrifice their university experience to do so. And that wouldn’t be fun.
Have a good week, U of T!