Seamus Wolfe

Students show appetite for lower debt load

UVic group stages protest of growing level of student debt

Hot soup and a slice of bread on a grey, wet West Coast day goes a long way.

It’s even better when it’s free, such as students enjoyed at the University of Victoria on Tuesday.

“This is something we do typically once a semester… playing on the idea of a soup kitchen,” said Greg Atkinson, UVic Students’ Society director of external relations. “It’s the reality too. We have a food bank [at UVic] and it’s over utilized.”

UVSS dished out free soup for students to raise awareness about the level of student debt in B.C. Free Soup Day for Student Debt was about educating the students, renewing awareness on campus and getting names on petitions to lobby the government.

“B.C. is the only province in Canada without a needs-based grants program,” said Atkinson. “Grants go a long way to solving a debt crisis.”

He notes a BMO survey shows the average student has $35,000 debt upon graduation.

“It’s baffling that our government isn’t doing anything,” Atkinson said. “[The soup] is a good way to communicate with students.”

Kenya Rogers said the comfort zone she witnessed while ladling soup created conversations in line.

“We’re trying to raise awareness. This issue is something that affects everyone on campus one way or another, but it’s not in the forefront of our minds,” she said. “That’s really important, to come into a safe space and have more than just a bowl of soup.”

Needs-based grants were eliminated a decade ago, and since 2001, tuition fees have more than doubled while per-student funding has dropped by 14 per cent, according to the UVSS.

“A big discouragement is that you have to go into massive debt for education,” said science student Brandon Kuemper, after adding his name to the petition in support. “You have to go backwards to go forwards, and for most people that’s a tough thing to do.”

By the end of the first of three hours of the event there were 600 names on the petition, including student Nicole Edgar.

“I owe the government a lot of money,” she said. “And I know far too many students who graduate and have to pay for 10, 20 years. It seems like we don’t appreciate and value education in this country.”

The petitions will be delivered to the provincial government in early 2015.

“I think students are shocked when they hear this is the only province without a grant program,” said Seamus Wolfe, UVSS research and communications staff. “A lot of the time, it’s not news and they’re really excited that we’re doing something about it.”

 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Santa’s Light parade glides through town on Saturday

Vancouver Island’s most popular Christmas parade is back for its 36th year

VIDEO: Innovating healthier homes

NZ Builders bring commercial concept into residential realm to improve energy efficiency and health

Concert band brings music to Monterey

Night of Music with dinner and music is Nov. 23 at Monterey Recreation Centre

Oak Bay High junior girls claim city, Island volleyball titles

The team heads for provincials this week in Surrey to take on 32 other junior teams

CF-18 lowered the boom over Saanich Sunday

Plane was arriving in Victoria region from Boise, ID

Oak Bay light up steeped in tradition

Nov. 26 event kicks off Christmas in Oak Bay

Wet weather expected for much of coastal B.C.

The Weather Network is calling for up to 200mm of rain to fall in some areas of the South Coast and Vancouver Island

B.C. reporter reflects on covering Charles Manson

Charles Manson, leader of a murderous cult, died on Sunday at 83

Running back propels Spectrum Thunder into first Subway Bowl final

Brandon Robbins scores hat trick of touchdowns

ICBC overbilling for crash repairs not the problem, dealers say

Collision repair shops reject union claim of inflated costs

B.C. groups to address child sex abuse in sports

viaSport is organizing a full day of education in association with Canadian Centre for Child Protection and the Coaching Association of Canada.

Report sets exercise guidelines for young kids, including ‘tummy time’ for babies

Kids aged one to four should get at least three hours of physical activity throughout the day

Stampeders return to Grey Cup with 32-28 win over Edmonton Eskimos

The Stampeders will face the Toronto Argonauts next Sunday in Ottawa for the title

Nebraska approves TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline

Nebraska’s Public Service Commission approved TransCanada’s Keystone XL route in a close vote

Most Read