Christen Roos, the UMSU Councillor representing students with disabilities as written a good letter to the editor which is printed in the current edition of The Manitoban
Putting pressure on the government
There have been some headlines in the Manitoban regarding the University of Manitoba Studentsâ€™ Union. In the last issue, an editor raised concern over the recent matter regarding the ancillary fee increase, and how UMSU is unable to effectively represent students on this matter (â€œWho will speak up for students now?â€� 20/07/2005). What should be noted is that originally the fees were going to be increased by $465, but, because of negotiations and advocating for the students, the fees were dropped to $150. Unfortunately, we couldnâ€™t get the fees reduced to zero, but there is a big difference between those two numbers, which was no doubt in part due to the pressure students put on the government and the administration. To say that we had no role is far from the truth.
Rather than claiming that anything we try to do as students wonâ€™t help, getting involved by educating ourselves on the issues and encouraging our representatives in government to increase funding and do whatâ€™s right for students seems like a much better route in dealing with the ancillary fee issue.
One would be hard-pressed to believe that the government would have just gone ahead and decreased the fees by providing our institution with an influx of money (something the studentsâ€™ union has been calling for over the last year) had it not been for student pressure. Government is political and they make political decisions based on how much political capital each decision is worth.
Part of the reason that health care presently gets more attention than education is because Canadians make a lot more noise about health care spending than about education spending. These are the people that vote, and the government knows that. Unfortunately, voter turnout among young people is still quite low, which has been changing for the better, though not fast enough.
While I think the voice of students in the province is growing, I encourage more students to get involved with issues related to post-secondary education so that we can ensure that, as students, we have an even stronger presence and voice in the upcoming year. Working together is the only way we can achieve our goals.