By Nazeefa Ahmed, December 2 2023—
On Dec. 1, students from the Department of Political Science and Department of History led a protest against tuition hikes in front of MacEwan Hall. The protests were voted on and organized by the two groups in addition to the Coalition of Alberta Postsecondary Students (CAPS). Representatives from the Graduate Labour Union were present as well.
“This comes as part of the increasing distress students feel financially in light of proposed tuition hikes by two per cent for domestic students and six per cent for international students,” reads a statement to the Gauntlet from Sheroog Kubur, a protest organizer.
The provincial government has cut close to 750 million dollars from schools across the province since 2019, with 100 million dollars from the U of C alone. This 100-million-dollar budget cut accounted for approximately a third to a quarter of the university’s budget.
Fifth-year political science student Ahmad Watoo explains how the lack of funds is leading to poor services for students overall.
“We aren’t paying more to have our buildings fixed, to have nicer resources [or] to have a higher quality of education. If anything, we are paying more to have a worse experience,” said Watoo. “We have lost TAs, classes that we need to graduate are being offered less and our campus is literally falling apart.”
Speaker Helen Huai describes how the mismanagement of funds is part of the problem, in addition to the budget cuts from the Alberta government.
“Being a university student is a full-time job in and of itself,” said Huai. “On top of that, thanks to the mismanagement of funds meant to go towards our education, we have another thing to stress about on top of the food and housing crisis.”
“These cuts don’t just hurt us but the whole community here on campus,” said Huai.
During the event CAPS distributed red squares for students to wear. The squares symbolize the cause of students advocating for their education.
Joshuah Lockett-Harris describes how the GLU faces similar problems as undergraduate students and supports the protest’s aims.
“The Graduate Labour Union stands in solidarity with you. Graduate students face many similar issues that you do as well. We also find ourselves as employees of the university. We are being exploited, we are underfunded, we are living in poverty.”
Students from the Department of History also voted to march through campus during the protest.
Students’ Union Vice President External Mateusz Salmassi criticizes the UCP for speaking of the surplus of funds and states how a percentage of the surplus could replace the money lost during budget cuts.
“The Alberta Government is running around bragging about how they have a five and a half billion dollar surplus,” said Salmassi. “If the Alberta government just reinvested two per cent of that surplus back into the University of Calgary, it would cancel out the budget cuts they did to this university. But they refuse. That money is on our backs. It’s coming from our tuition.”
He also points to how the 1200-dollar tax credit for university students has been canceled since 2019 as well as how the Student Temporary Employment Program has been canceled as well.
“You gut our tuition, you gut our universities and colleges, you hike our taxes, you take away our jobs. What is there left?” said Salmassi.
More information about future protests can be found on the CAPS Instagram profile.