Hungry students. Packed classrooms. Students passed up at bus stops and no longer able to afford previously tuition-free adult basic education courses.
These issues reach beyond the post-secondary student population and affect everyone, says Camosun College Student Society external executive Madeline Keller-MacLeod, organizer of a student action and public awareness campaign slated for Feb. 1.
“I’ve talked to a lot of students who have told me about trying to write papers after not having eaten for several days,” Keller-MacLeod said. “I’ve talked to people who were at those crisis points.”
Camosun will be participating in All Out Feb. 1: Canada’s National Day of Action, an initiative from the Canadian Federation of Students, to which the student union belongs.
The event will feature information booths, a free lunch and presentations from Jessica Van der Veen, founder of LANDS (Let’s not Agree to Dispose of Schools), as well as Bronwen Welch, president of the Camosun College Faculty Association.
Among talking points, Welch will speak to growing class wait lists at Camosun as well as the shortage of technology and supplies.
Courses are being cut because the college can simply not afford to run them – and that means that classrooms are often overloaded because
instructors do not want to turn students away, Welch wrote in an email to the News.
“Unless this government makes post-secondary education a priority, students will not be receiving the kind of education they deserve,” Welch added. “Education is an investment in our future – not a cost.”
Beyond the national campaign’s chief goals of reducing tuition fees, reducing student debt and restoring education funding, Keller-MacLeod would like to see the general public come to campus and become more engaged.
“Post secondary issues are issues for everyone,” she said.
“It’s really important that students recognize the ongoing investment each and every B.C. taxpayer makes towards post secondary education – in all, $1.9 billion last year alone in operating funds, which works out to about $5.2 million a day in taxpayer support,” said Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto in a statement. “This also means that our students are paying less than a third of the actual cost of their education.”
The event – which will also touch on transit overcrowding along school routes and changes to the cost of adult basic education courses – runs Feb. 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the courtyard outside the Fisher Building of the Lansdowne campus. Lunch is served at noon with talks to follow.