UW students protest retroactive tuition increase

Students gathered near the Diane Porter library Tuesday afternoon (Photo by Justin Smirlies).

Students gathered near the Diane Porter library Tuesday afternoon (Photo by Justin Smirlies).

Around 50 students gathered on the University of Waterloo campus Tuesday afternoon to protest the university’s administration’s decision to retroactively increase fees for spring-term undergraduate and graduate students.

The decision was made on June 4 after the deadline for students to receive the 100 per cent refund and when the spring term began in May. In addition, tuition fees for the spring term were due on April 29.

“The thing is we have no idea where [the fee] is going,” said Sophie Cote, a fourth-year arts student at UW who was participating in the protest. “In the e-mail that they sent us there was absolutely no explanation.”

The university board of governors was slated to meet on April 2 to discuss their budget, but since the Ontario government changed the tuition framework earlier this year– in which fee increases are now capped at three per cent – UW moved the meeting to June 4 to alter the budget under that framework.

“I organized this protest because the University of Waterloo has retroactively raised fees for spring-term students. The university did not do due diligence in informing students about the increases,” explained Elana Hashman, a third-year mathematics and computer science student who organized the protest on June 11.

“The university did not post any estimates of how much tuition increase,” she added. “Because the university decided to raise the fees after the 100 per cent refund deadline, students have no bargaining power. We have no choice, we either pay the fee or withdraw from classes.”

The students held up signs, sported red squares similar to those from the Quebec student protests in 2012 and asked people walking by to sign a petition. UW campus police monitored the protest from a distance.

The date of the protest coincides with one of UW’s convocation ceremonies as well.

According to Hashman, the goal of the protest is to start a discussion with the university administration – which she noted hasn’t occurred yet – and for the fees to be reversed.

“I have sent out a very detailed e-mail about why I’m the upset about what happened to the administration, but I have not yet received a response,” continued Hashman.

Cote added, “[We want to] start a momentum, get the conversation going.”