Campaign to pressure government pre-election
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
For the last two weeks, the Douglas Student Union has been actively promoting the Squash the Squeeze Campaign, whether through tabling in the concourse or sending volunteers from classroom to classroom.
Squash the Squeeze is a provincial campaign with four goals. The first is to increase core funding to post-secondary institutions, as funding has decreased in proportion to inflation since the late ’90s.
The second goal is to freeze and reduce tuition fees, hopefully to the level it would be if it were not for inflation. When the BC Liberals took over the provincial government in 2001, they deregulated tuition fees. As a result, funding for institutions went down while tuition fees rose. Until a two per cent cap was placed on tuition fees, institutions had raised their tuition exponentially—some of which had even doubled their fees in the course of a year.
The third goal is to bring back provincial grants for students. For the time being, grants are offered on the federal level, but not on a provincial level.
The fourth goal is to remove interest on student loans.
Tracy Ho, the college relations and membership outreach coordinator at the Douglas Students’ Union, explained that in order for the campaign to work, all of the goals need to be met to “bring the system of post-secondary education in BC back to a place where people can afford to go.”
During the Week of Action, the DSU set a goal of getting 3,500 postcards signed—about 25 per cent of students on campus at any given time—and send them to the Minister of Advanced Education. In the first week, the DSU garnered 3,775 signatures for the campaign, surpassing their original goal.
Organizers hope the arrival of these postcards will start to get BC politicians thinking about education reform in the province, especially leading up to the provincial election in May 2017. As well, DSU members will be meeting with local MLAs to further discuss the campaign. Come January and beyond, the DSU will be employing a similar campaign that they employed during the 2015 federal election, with the goal of getting more students registered to vote.
Although it was originally only supposed to go for one week, Douglas instructors were so interested in the Week of Action that they invited DSU members to start more classroom discussions for an additional week.
The DSU first became involved with the Squash the Squeeze campaign through its membership in the British Columbia Federation of Students.
The Week of Action also served as a great volunteer opportunity for students who were looking to become more involved with the DSU, following a successful volunteer recruitment campaign back in mid-October.