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Photo by Valery Perez

Political science and international relations students go on strike to oppose tuition increase 

By Eula Mengullo, March 27 2023

Political science and international relations students held a strike on March 27 calling for the university and the provincial government to listen to student demands to freeze tuition increases. 

According to a press release to the Gauntlet, the decision to mobilize resulted from the March 22 General Meeting which saw an overwhelming vote of 96.5 per cent in support of the strike.

The General Meeting met the necessary turnout of seven per cent of the student body, meaning that the motions discussed and voted on have been democratically chosen.

“Using the framework of a direct democracy, all in attendance who were political science and international relations majors and minors had the opportunity to voice their concerns of the strike and propose motions to amend the agenda of the strike as they saw fit,” the statement read.

The strike saw students picketing outside of classrooms across campus, chanting to beat tuition hikes and sharing various experiences of student struggle as a result of the consecutive rise in tuition. 

“As a democratic force, we are demanding that the government freeze tuition and reverse the more than $700 million in budget cuts,” the rest of the statement read.

Photo by Valery Perez

One of the elected media spokespersons Julia Lee described some of the financial strains affecting students caused by the continued rise of tuition. 

“There are a lot of people on campus who are food insecure and who are considering dropping out of their degrees because they cannot afford education anymore,” said Lee.

“We are striking because our demands need to be met.”

Similarly, this frustration was echoed by a fellow spokesperson Josh Neumann.

“We are fed up with the government cuts to higher education in Alberta,” said Neumann. “All of us here are students who have taken the brunt of those tuition hikes.

“We all feel the pain and struggle of having a dream —  a dream career or a dream of quality education,” he continued. “We deserve to be able to pursue self-enrichment and it’s being denied to us.” 

In response to the department’s decision to proceed with classes, Neumann highlighted that the university has pushed students to the point where they were left with no choice but to disrupt the usual order of business. 

“Students are the main product of this university and they want things to keep going smoothly, but we’re at a breaking point,” he said. 

Photo by Valery Perez

Students in the department urge the university and the provincial government to prioritize student concerns and invest in their needs. 

“We implore them to prioritize the needs of students. Students have repeatedly said that they are food insecure, that they can’t afford education, that they’re having mental health issues,” said Lee. 

“[The university and the provincial government] really need to consider their priorities and ensure that they are actually investing in students and our future,” she continued. 

The strike was held in response to the university’s decision to increase tuition for the fourth consecutive time since 2019 which resulted in an overall 33 per cent increase in tuition. While a two per cent domestic tuition cap was announced in February, this will not come into force until the 2024 academic year. Additionally, this cap does not apply to international students.

For more information on the political science and international relations students’ advocacy against increased tuition, visit their Instagram page

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