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Students need to start asking the right questions

Kate Jacobson

Gauntlet Editorial Board

Market modifiers are a touchy topic on Alberta’s post-secondary campuses. If you’ve never heard of them, market modifiers are extra fees charged for degrees considered more valuable than others.For example, administration at the University of Calgary think a bachelor’s degree in commerce is worth more on the job market than, say, a bachelor of arts, so everyone in commerce pays an extra $232 per business course.

Ten per cent of the money collected from business students is earmarked for scholarships and bursaries.

The old funding process was secretive and hampered by a lack of communication. The full amount of money was rarely distributed because business students often didn’t know about market modifier-funded financial aid.

But this has changed. Not because of administrative reforms or a new strategic direction, but because last year’s SU business representatives, Krzystof Iwanicki and Jasmine Chitroda, had the persistence to navigate administrative bureaucracy and ask the right questions.

SU representatives have access to members of university administration that most of us don’t. But other student efforts have shown that having access doesn’t mean you will get answers. The Council of Alberta University Students have been pushing for regulation on mandatory non-instructional fees for years. Even though CAUS is a larger organization with more political clout, they’re still unable to get the results they want.

Students can debate tactics all we want, but eventually we must move with solidarity. The SU can’t always accomplish all that it hopes to on our behalf and we shouldn’t expect them to.

At a certain point, we just have to start asking the right people the right questions. We also have to ask them together.

Accountability depends on the mass desire for information. If an institution isn’t accountable to specific demands, it’s easy for information to be muddled and hidden.

The increased transparency to the business market modifier is a reminder that students should not be at the whim of university administration or provincial policy.

We need to ask questions and we should expect knowledgeable and reasonable answers. We need to engage in dialogue as informed and cohesive parties, not as special interest groups that react to the decisions of others.

Students have power as a group, and our voices are amplified when we repeat each other’s demands.Let’s insist on accountability and transparency from our administration and our government.



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