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Photo by Daman Singh

U of C political science students protest at advanced education minister’s office

By Eula Mengullo and Nazeefa Ahmed, May 28 2023— 

On May 26, political science students protested outside the office of the Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nikolades due to the upcoming provincial election. 

According to a news release to the Gauntlet, the students were aiming to raise awareness on student concerns ahead of the provincial election on May 29.

“In light of the upcoming Alberta provincial elections, we encourage all those eligible to vote to do so as the theme of post-secondary education becomes a major talking point leading up to the election,” the statement read. 

“Our aim is to raise awareness about the issues facing students at the moment and the issues they will face in the aftermath of the proposed reforms. Students already are facing food insecurity and financial difficulties as they try to pay for rent and utilities while already being under pressure from existing tuition fees,” the statement continued.  

Photo by Daman Singh

This is highlighted by one of the organizers of the protest, Sheroog Kubur, as she explained why this is a crucial time to voice out student concerns. 

“The protest isn’t necessarily against a particular government or a particular party, it is against the fact that students have continuously been screwed over by governments.”

“The crux of the protest is essentially to raise awareness and to make sure that the people in these ridings know what the struggles the students are going through and they vote responsibly,” she continued.

This is echoed by one of the protesters, Ahmad Wattoo, who highlighted that tuition has increased consecutively since 2019 and had disproportionately impacted students across campus. 

“We’re here protesting for tuition freezes because the Board of Governors at the U of C has voted to increase tuition to another 5.5 per cent this oncoming year,” said Wattoo. “As well as international students not having a regulation on their tuition at all.”

Photo by Daman Singh

Like Kubur, he noted the critical time for students to mobilize as Albertans cast their votes on Monday.

“Alberta is a province with a history of very little student activism and this has led to our government cutting funding which subsequently leads to increased tuition whenever they please,” said Wattoo.

“It is important now more than ever for us to mobilize and start that momentum to set the precedent that students will not just sit down and take whatever tuition increases that the government throws at us,” he continued.

Protester Cynthia Tahhan believes that the government should involve more student voices in the process of making education more accessible. 

“I think that the government of Alberta ought to make a deal that represents students and should have active and inclusive consultation with the student body to make sure that their interests are being represented,” said Tahhan. “Education is supposed to be a universal right for all people. It is supposed to be free and affordable.”

Photo by Daman Singh

Fourth-year student Helen Huai encourages students to exercise their democratic rights to get the government’s attention on tuition increases. 

“Most people, I think, agree that we are spending way too much on tuition but they are just too scared to stand out or say anything,” said Huai. “If even ten per cent of the student body got together that would be incredible.”

More information about the Political Science students’ activism regarding student concerns can be found on their Instagram.

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