MÉSRQ says tools to cope with tuition hike exist

As Concordia undergraduates prepare for the March 7 general strike vote, the debate over the government’s planned tuition increases is simmering more than ever, with Quebec students who are in favour of the hike blaming this divide on lack of awareness.
The Mouvement des étudiants socialement responsables du Québec is a student organization that supports the tuition hike and opposes the strike. Some of their members wear green felt squares instead of red.
One MÉSRQ spokesperson, Arielle Grenier, has gained considerable notoriety over the past few weeks after she told La Presse that she had been harassed by other students at UQAM for favouring the increase. She recently appeared on Radio-Canada’s Tout le monde en parle to debate the increases against Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the spokesperson for the Coalition large de l’Association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante.
There has been controversy surrounding the MÉSRQ over ties to the provincial Liberal Party, particularly after a photo surfaced on Facebook of some MÉSRQ members talking with Education Minister Line Beauchamp, who had originally denied ever meeting with members of the group. Nonetheless, MÉSRQ says this has not slowed them down in their mission to keep the dialogue going.
“Our goal is to inform students and to demonstrate that there are tools to cope with this increase — it’s just a matter of using them,” said Simon Talbot, a spokesperson for the MÉSRQ.
Talbot’s family invested in a registered education savings plan when he was a child, which in turn paid for his post-secondary studies.
“I think every parent can afford to invest, even as little as $1 a day, for their children,” he said.
It is a program, along with others, that he believes are neglected in Quebec due to lack of publicity. Talbot also pointed out grants like the Canada Learning Bond, which combined with the RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan), can contribute to a child’s education.
Quebec invests the most money out of all of the provinces in public services in Canada, said Talbot.
“The state already pays 85 per cent of the education bill,” he said. “So evidently, seeing as it’s the students who will benefit most down the line, it’s only normal that they be held responsible for paying a small portion, and in my opinion 15 per cent seems a reasonable share.”
Chris Robertson, a third-year accounting student at Concordia, said tuition increases are not worth protesting against.
“I think today, most people can afford it. I don’t see it as horribly impractical,” Robertson said. “If I can get by having an apartment, being able to pay tuition, working and have a full course load, I figure other people can get by, too,” said Robertson.
David Ayache, a third-year mechanical engineering student, is against the strike but is uncertain of his position on the tuition increases.
“I personally don’t understand why the proposed increase is such a big deal,” said Ayache. “I think taking out that loan, applying to receive financial aid or applying to bursaries would solve a lot of the problems I have heard across campus.”
Students have raised concerns that universities are, in fact, not underfunded but that the resources invested are mismanaged. Talbot recognized this as a legitimate concern.
“The proper management of the money we invest in our universities is extremely important, so there needs to be controls implemented in order to ensure that the money we put into it is handled well if there is an increase,” he said.


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