Why is a right-wing student group being promoted on rabble?

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spatrioter
Why is a right-wing student group being promoted on rabble?

Today was the third time I discovered the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance having one of their press releases reproduced in the form of a Rabble blog post. Here are the other two.

Two comments from different posters questioning the uncritical reproduction of OUSA's press releases on Rabble have been deleted from the blog, so in keeping with Michelle's suggestion, I'm taking the discussion to Babble.

OUSA is a small fringe group that splintered from the student movement because they believe in tuition fee increases, something that was described as "radical" in this blog post.

That would be like posting talking points for R.E.A.L. Women of Canada without any critical analysis and claiming this is feminist or represents the concerns of Canadian women.

The slogan for Rabble is "News for the rest of us". I realize that Rabble is not responsible for the content of blogs, but how do these posts fit in with the website's mandate?

Issues Pages: 
HeywoodFloyd

Do you have a probem with their press release, or their Food for Thought campaign?

http://www.ousa.ca/2010/02/18/food-for-thought-campaign/

spatrioter

Instead of promoting access to education, this campaign is promoting access to loans (and therefore debt). It would be like responding to increased poverty by calling for better access to credit cards and more Money Mart outlets.

This is the kind of discussion that should be happening if we wanted to discuss this OUSA press release. Instead, we're just getting quotes from their sources and no investigation of the issues or critical analysis.

A_J

spatrioter wrote:
OUSA is a small fringe group that splintered from the student movement because they believe in tuition fee increases, something that was described as "radical" in this blog post.

That's an "interesting" way of reading it:

Quote:
An organization that represents over 140,000 university students across Ontario on Friday recommended an ambitious agenda of long-term changes that included raising the OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Plan) maximum to $175 per week, formal instruction in teaching methods and practices to Phd students at a cost of $1 million and regulating tuition fee increases at the rate of inflation.

I think it's safe to say they mean limiting tuition fee increases to only the rate of inflation, and no higher.

Are you by any chance affiliated with the Canadian Federation of Students and simply sore that the OUAS broke away nearly 20 years ago? Or is this a case of "right-wing because they're not left-wing enough for my tastes"?

remind remind's picture

Evidence is mounting rabble........

spatrioter

Given that I would have been five years old when OUSA split off, I'm not too sore. I meant small in relative terms; they represent seven student unions, compared to the 30+ that are members of the main student organization in Ontario.

Yes, I do think advocating for user fee increases for public services -- regardless of the rate of increase -- is a right-wing position.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

spatrioter is pointing out, quite rightly, that there is nothing "radical" about the very centrist platform of OUSA. The concern in the OP is not about the platform per se, but that rabble seems content to publish a centrist, not particularly progressive group's press releases as is without any in-house critical analysis. Worse, to colour a platform that advocates tuition increases (which is exactly what OUSA is doing, whether adjusted to inflation or not) as "radical" is a serious disservice to more progressive and revolutionary student groups who believe that tution should be going down, not up.

It's a good question, and should be answered.

cmkl

I think it would be great if whoever rabble has covering issues around post-secondary education was a tad more hep to the milieu than to just unwittingly paraphrase the press release of one side of the schism among student organizations. Doesn't make Rabble look very smart.

Snert Snert's picture

Hehe.  Evidently, students suggesting that anyone who's a student should pay more toward their own education are right-wing, and students suggesting that everyone who's not a student should pay more are left-wing.

 

Quote:
which is exactly what OUSA is doing, whether adjusted to inflation or not

 

Is it?

 

When a (real) right-winger complains that unions get guaranteed raises every year, and someone points out that a COLA is just an adjustment to keep real wages from actually decreasing then we all seem to understand that in real dollar terms, this adjustment is pure status quo.

 

You seem to be saying that tuition indexed to inflation is, regardless, an actual increase in tuition each year, which is exactly the opposite of the logic above. Have you thought this through, mathematically??

spatrioter

Snert wrote:
Hehe.  Evidently, students suggesting that anyone who's a student should pay more toward their own education are right-wing, and students suggesting that everyone who's not a student should pay more are left-wing.

If a group advocated for user fees for health care, and that these fees should increase with inflation, and that people should have access to "health care loans" to help them pay for it, wouldn't you call that right-wing?

This isn't about insulting anyone. It's about clarifying what ideology is behind certain policy positions. User fees for public services is a right-wing neoliberal position.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What a bizarre, nonsensical argument. Do you have a point, Snert?

Ya_dont_say

John Bonnar has made some valuable contributions to rabble, especially with regard to reporting on events and issues related to poverty and housing in Toronto. However, his coverage of OUSA is baffling. OUSA has always been known as a conservative student organization that has never approached post-secondary issues with a progressive lens.  Looking at their documents, their recommendations to government (apart from accepting tuition fee hikes) are quite shallow and make it appear that they lack any real analysis of the issues. 

To get a further idea of what I mean, one of their government submissions (which is available and featured on their website) has a troubling paragraph that reads:

"In addition to increased government revenue, Ontarians with a post-secondary degree are likely to live longer, be healthier, commit fewer crimes, vote in larger numbers, donate to charity, and volunteer in their communities. Having post-secondary educated parents leads to lower levels of teenage pregnancy, child abuse and neglect, and reduced crime in children. There is even evidence of a strong correlation between educational attainment and morality."

This type of dialogue is problematic in so many ways and quite accurately reflects the views of the organization. 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

If a group advocated for user fees for health care, and that these fees should increase with inflation, and that people should have access to "health care loans" to help them pay for it, wouldn't you call that right-wing?

 

User fees like prescription costs, eye exams, various "co-pays" and so on? Well, honestly if someone suggested indexing those to inflation, I don't know that I'd be calling them Glenn Beck or anything.

 

I just always find it funny that, as I said, the "left wing" response to tuition fees is to expect more from those who will never use them.

 

Quote:

What a bizarre, nonsensical argument. Do you have a point, Snert?

 

Sure, in a nutshell: things indexed to inflation do not get more expensive over time. Suggesting that indexing something to inflation raises its cost demonstrates an inability to do math. Howzat? Still want to maintain that this group is advocating for higher fees?

pogge

spatrioter:

Have you not noticed that Bonnar's blog, like the rest of the blogs on rabble, accepts comments? Why not talk to him directly?

 

spatrioter

pogge wrote:

spatrioter:

Have you not noticed that Bonnar's blog, like the rest of the blogs on rabble, accepts comments? Why not talk to him directly?

I did. It was deleted, along with another user's comment on a previous blog entry.

pogge

spatrioter wrote:

I did. It was deleted, along with another user's comment on a previous blog entry.

Ah. Carry on then.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Snert wrote:
Sure, in a nutshell: things indexed to inflation do not get more expensive over time. Suggesting that indexing something to inflation raises its cost demonstrates an inability to do math. Howzat? Still want to maintain that this group is advocating for higher fees?

Hmm. Let me be clear: I am invested in this conversation because I have concern over how a progressive news organization presents education issues. You have no such concern, as you are interested only in gamesmanship and sophistry, neither of which you do very well. That is what I mean when I say you have no point, no principles and no reason to be in this conversation other than to ego-stroke and agitate. I can't see any other reason for you to be in this thread, and your further postings do nothing but reinforce this understanding.

You are the one who introduced "expensive" into this discussion, probably because of your faulty analogy with wages, which must, by definition, include real economic costs and values. Spatrioter obliquely made the point that asking to pay more tuition is asking for a tuition increase. The progressive student groups of which I am aware and of which I have been a part ask for decreases, in tution--indeed, free tuition is the ultimate goal. Therefore, any movement in the opposite direction, irrespective of tution's "real" economic cost, is unprogressive.

But don't let that get in the way of your red herrings and parlour tricks.

oldgoat

Say spats, you weren't flogging your essay writing service in those comments were you?

To the extent that I've read Bonnars blog, I've found him to be generally pretty solid. About the missing posts though, have you tried asking the publisher about them? I don't think bloggers can remove posts, because John once contacted me asking me to remove some commercial spam.

spatrioter

The comment I had posted on the blog was a shorter version of my opening post, so I don't think it was deleted for length.

I read Michelle's post in this thread that bloggers can delete posts and have the right to do so, and if anyone objects to this deletion, they can bring the discussion to Babble.

oldgoat

I didn't know that. Maybe at the time that John contacted me, (several months ago) he didn't know it either.

So there's two problematic issues, one being the points you raise in your opening post, and the second being that the blogger felt it was ok to delete it.

500_Apples

I personally arrive at the conclusion of tuition increases from a progressive perspective. Students are not only primarily privileged, but they are upwardly mobile. IMO, cutting wages for university workers or raising the GST to pay for lower tuition is no different than providing tax credits for buying a home, it primarily benefits the better off.

Catchfire wrote:
You are the one who introduced "expensive" into this discussion, probably because of your faulty analogy with wages, which must, by definition, include real economic costs and values. Spatrioter obliquely made the point that asking to pay more tuition is asking for a tuition increase. The progressive student groups of which I am aware and of which I have been a part ask for decreases, in tution--indeed, free tuition is the ultimate goal. Therefore, any movement in the opposite direction, irrespective of tution's "real" economic cost, is unprogressive.

The impact of free tuition would negatively impact lower-income students a lot more than higher-income students.

An example would be educational assistance. Students who fall behind can sometimes afford private tutoring, and sometimes not. Universities provide some equalization for this. They have teaching assistants giving tutorials, they have tutors on site for departments such as English and Math. That would no doubt go quickly if funding dried up, and poor students would be a lot more effective.

I did both kinds of tutoring as an undergraduate. I offered private tutoring for $20/hour, of which there was no shortage of demand, and kids from well-off families would be able to pull of B+ and A- performances with my help even if they were challenged at the start or they skipped the first 4 weeks partying away. I also worked in a department help desk, where the department paid me money and I gave help to anyone who walked in. That would be cut if funding dried up, and you'd end up with a situation where wealthy kids can get help but poor kids cannot.

Student unions are primarily staffed by students from well-off families who have ambitions of power in the business and political world. They discuss issues of student poverty from a theoretical perspective, they don't really understand them. They don't get how critical ancillary services are for example. Who do you think would be more affected by eliminating the housing office - students who pay rent or students whose parents buy a downtown condo as an investment?

Who would be more affected by eliminating mental health services?

***********
***********

I realize my view is not the fashionable one, but imo what we need are schools that empower students, that give them a good and complete education. We're not concerned with medical students taking on $50,000 in debts because we know they'll have the means to pay them off. That should be the norm. I think that's preferable to an alternative system, where people graduate without debt, but without much education and a lot of problems.

Even if tuition were free, students would still need $10k-$15k/year just in living expenses, there are broader problems here.

500_Apples

Double post

spatrioter

Quote:
I personally arrive at the conclusion of health care user fees from a progressive perspective. People with better health are not only primarily privileged, but they are upwardly mobile. IMO, cutting wages for health care workers or raising the GST to pay for free health care is no different than providing tax credits for buying a home, it primarily benefits the better off.

...

Even if health care were free, people would still need $10k-$15k/year just in extended health benefits and drug costs, there are broader problems here.

A_J

Health-care isn't education.

I agree with 500_Apples. Free tuition just means a cash handout to the middle and upper-class families who currently account for the majority of students. Of course, maybe more less-privileged students would be able to attend then do now if tuition were free, but that could be achieved at much less cost through targeted needs-based grants. Instead of giving cash to everyone, give it to those who need it, and let the rest continue to pay their way.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Well, from reading Stephen Gordon (ex of babble), I understand the thinking behind seeing free tuition as a "cash handount to the middle and upper-class families," but the idea of free tuition would hopefully be accompanied by a progressive tax structure that would take appropriate funds from upper- and middle-class families already. A free-market solution is to facilitate loans (and debt) to less well-off students, presuming that they will make it up in the hypothetical future. Since student debt is at an all-time and crippling high, this system appears to me to be deeply flawed.

One of my starting points is that while it may not be health care, post-secondary education is nevertheless a human right, and it is of paramount importance that it is accessible to all: poor, rural, marginalized. Education at all levels is a good in and of itself, and this belief needs to be enfranchised in our laws, best accomplioshed, I believe, through fully state-funded programs, including, like they have in Scandinavia and Finland, a stipend for living expenses.

At least the argument raised by A_J and Apples are rooted in an ostensible concern for the subject matter, rather than, like Snert, simply interested in scoring points, feeding their egos, or "winning."

But the benefit of free tuition has been raised many times on babble. I don't mind bringing it up again, but I think it is off topic. Unless I'm wrong, spatrioter is not (only) concerned with babble publishing the "wrong" or "unprogressive" opinions, but that a conspicuously right-wing organization (although I would characterize them as liberal or centrist) is given free and uncritical voice on rabble, supposedly a place of progressive politics--furthermore, the fact that the blogger calls this mealy-mouthed group "radical" is also disturbing. The question of the deleted comments is another problematic concern.

George Victor

Thank Gaia for your presence hereabouts, Catchfire.  And that comes from the bottom of the old ticker. I believe that this subject is rising here not just because Ontario is the costliest jurisdiction for the student  (I speak as an old grad student at U of T , and I mean OLD) but because of the great difficulty presented in sharing the deficit in a deep recession.  The level of unemployment tells the tale. The economic climate surely demands this kind of discussion.  But I'm not sure that comparing  the representative student bodies without mention of Ontario's relative impoverishment is enlightening. "Radical" is good if its affordable??? Or is it "pee on the general economic conditions, working class students deserve an equal chance at higher education because."..

What does a "progressive venue" call for  in this climate of general emisseration?

500_Apples

spatrioter wrote:

Quote:
I personally arrive at the conclusion of health care user fees from a progressive perspective. People with better health are not only primarily privileged, but they are upwardly mobile. IMO, cutting wages for health care workers or raising the GST to pay for free health care is no different than providing tax credits for buying a home, it primarily benefits the better off.

...

Even if health care were free, people would still need $10k-$15k/year just in extended health benefits and drug costs, there are broader problems here.

There's so much fail in that analogy.

Biggest error:

Rich people are not more likely to get sick than poor people, like you assume.

500_Apples

Catchfire wrote:

Well, from reading Stephen Gordon (ex of babble), I understand the thinking behind seeing free tuition as a "cash handount to the middle and upper-class families," but the idea of free tuition would hopefully be accompanied by a progressive tax structure that would take appropriate funds from upper- and middle-class families already. A free-market solution is to facilitate loans (and debt) to less well-off students, presuming that they will make it up in the hypothetical future. Since student debt is at an all-time and crippling high, this system appears to me to be deeply flawed.

One of my starting points is that while it may not be health care, post-secondary education is nevertheless a human right, and it is of paramount importance that it is accessible to all: poor, rural, marginalized. Education at all levels is a good in and of itself, and this belief needs to be enfranchised in our laws, best accomplioshed, I believe, through fully state-funded programs, including, like they have in Scandinavia and Finland, a stipend for living expenses.

At least the argument raised by A_J and Apples are rooted in an ostensible concern for the subject matter, rather than, like Snert, simply interested in scoring points, feeding their egos, or "winning."

But the benefit of free tuition has been raised many times on babble. I don't mind bringing it up again, but I think it is off topic. Unless I'm wrong, spatrioter is not (only) concerned with babble publishing the "wrong" or "unprogressive" opinions, but that a conspicuously right-wing organization (although I would characterize them as liberal or centrist) is given free and uncritical voice on rabble, supposedly a place of progressive politics--furthermore, the fact that the blogger calls this mealy-mouthed group "radical" is also disturbing. The question of the deleted comments is another problematic concern.

Obviously, progressive tax increases with a decent fraction of that going to post-secondary education would be the way to go, but I don't think that's going to happen. Even if that were to happen, I don't think it would be directly pertinent. Universities are very elastic, with a lot of room for harmful funding cuts and beneficial funding increases, there's no sweet spot. I think a lot of progressives believe that tuition increases would reduce pressure on governments to increase funding, I don't think that's true due to the reasons above. As I do not believe governments will go that route, the dichotomy I perceive is between greater tuition or constant tuition and declining university funding.

It is strange to read these comments coming from Catchfire, who was a McGill student. McGill is underfunded. It doesn't have enough physical space, so some large classes like physiology 209 meet at 7:30 am. It can't hire enough janitors, so some bathrooms are... "displeasing". It lacks 24/7 study spaces. There are long waits at its health clinics. Some argued that there were not enough advisors. These things cost money, these things were issues, and he there's no way he failed to notice. These are reasons I didn't participate in the anti-democratic student strike, and why I supported Jean Charest's $500 tuition increase. I'll also note that the graduate students there don't get much physical space, and graduate study and success is the most important task of a research university.

I'm not a big fan of the language of human rights, as I see them often rooted in the hypocrisy of western imperialism and bourgeois liberals, and they are applied inevenly. I prefer we aim for "human rights" issues like gay marriage or guaranteed health care because it's a better world to live in, not because we're ethically egotist cavemen who need to have these ideas imposed on us by judicial elites. That was the narrative of gay marriage in Canada... that it was becoming law because of the supreme court, which is a nonsensical narrative as previous supreme courts would have voted differently. Whether or not post-secondary education is "a right" (TM) doesn't affect the quality or availabality of PSE as that can just be cloaked by pronouncements, all that matters is how its benefits are viewed by voters and legislators.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thanks for your kind words, George.

When Quebec students voted to strike to fight the tuition hikes, I was one of the minority of McGill students who joined the protests, because I think the lack of funding in Canadian schools (which is true not just at McGill, incidentally, but across the nation) should be repaired by public money, not from debt off the backs of students. I respect the position articulated by Gordon and others here, mainly because I also agree that a progessive tax that would make free tuition feasible is unlikely in Canada in my lifetime. But la lutte continue...

A word on "the language of human rights" and the courts. I wish skdadl wasn't beaten off by some of the braying gadflies on this board, because she would give us an eloquent lesson on what a "human right" is in the eyes of the law. I have to say I am delighted to hear the objection you have, Apples, because I might agree with you halfway. You are right that when a "human right" is designated by the West as some inviolate commodity to be forced upon the masses, that this is a tool of the oppressor and counter-revolutionary. But that is not what I mean when I invoke human rights, nor is it what Canada's esteemed Supreme Court meant when it enfranchised SSM rights in our law--the Supreme Court is not, theoretically, an enforcer of the law, but an interpreter of the law. And as such, they have the weight of history behind them. They have the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and all of its great cousins. They have the social reality of LGBT folk, and their real desires, demands and voices. And it is those voices, those narratives, that compelled the court to give a name to what was really already there. A true "right" comes from below, not from above.

So too with education. Our society has valued education for centuries, and the enfranchisement of all classes and people to enjoy what education they may has been recognized across the globe, at least in name,  as channelling this power of history. Again, education is a social good, point. It is not a means for better citizenry, for better economic standing, for better cultural capital, although it can afford all of these things. It is a good in toto and per se, and should be treated by our governments as such.

Unionist

Some previous threads:

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/youth-issues/college-tuition]College Tuition[/url]

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/youth-issues/college-tuition-ii]College Tuition II[/url]

[url=http://www.rabble.ca/babble/youth-issues/college-tuition-iii]College Tuition III[/url]

Well argued, Catchfire.

As for the organization cited in the OP, anyone who calls for limiting tuition fee increases to the increase in CPI has ipso facto accepted the current fee scales and abandoned the struggle to reduce or eliminate them. I, along with spatrioter, question why such an appeal to the government ought to be publicized by rabble. I had never really noticed John Bonnar before, but on scanning some of his many articles from the past couple of years, he appears to be more a "reporter" of "news" than an analyst or op-ed type. Even though he used the word "radical" inappropriately, it is conceivable that he was just reporting on something he didn't personally agree with - or just plain misunderstood. In any event, I see nothing progressive in this organization's appeal and even less in the somewhat repugnant "justifications" it invokes to persuade the neoliberals to adopt their proposal.

rasmus

As far as I can tell, John Bonnar's blog posts consist entirely of regurgitated press releases from NGOs and advocacy groups. He could be replaced with a PHP script.

Unionist

Well, rasmus, I was trying to be polite... but you hit the nail on the head.

Having said that - great to see you here!!

 

wage zombie

500_Apples wrote:
spatrioter wrote:

Quote:
I personally arrive at the conclusion of health care user fees from a progressive perspective. People with better health are not only primarily privileged, but they are upwardly mobile. IMO, cutting wages for health care workers or raising the GST to pay for free health care is no different than providing tax credits for buying a home, it primarily benefits the better off.

There's so much fail in that analogy. Biggest error: Rich people are not more likely to get sick than poor people, like you assume.

No--but where health services are expensive, rich people will be much more represented in hospitals than poor people.  It's not about who's likelier to get sick or who's likelier to want to study, it's about who is more likely to be able to afford the services.

That same argument is currently being made in the US right now.  Right wingers are arguing that the public option or any move towards greater accessibility of health services would have a negative effect on Medicare services.

Do you think the upper class in the US are purchasing medical services in the states at the same rate as everyone else?

ETA: sorry for the thread drift, this thread isn't directly about tuition fees.

genstrike

Anyone suggesting that increasing tuition is progressive is wrong, wrong, wrong.

But this is Manitoba, where the provincial government increases tuition and cuts corporate taxes.  Somehow, that's progressive?  I think not.  Or when some report comes out and calls for tuition increases as part of some sort of package complete with all these needs based grants and bursaries and whatnot to make sure that the damage caused by the tuition increase is somewhat evened out, but then only the tuition increase manifests itself.

User fees for education are simply a regressive tax system.  I believe it was Hugh McKenzie from the CCPA who looked at the issue and noticed that reducing tuition was a net subsidy from the rich to the poor - sure, upper class people go to school a bit more, but they also pay a lot more in taxes, so it's actually a downward transfer of wealth.

Furthemore, any notion that lower tuition has to come out of university workers wages is wrongheaded and silly.  My student union supports workers at the university in their struggles, and the university locals have never called for tuition increases.  Also, my student union has gone to bat to try to preserve vital ancillary services as well.

Yeah, we will probably always need some sort of needs based system to help people out, but not at the expense of high tuition.

I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to call the notion that increasing tuition but making up for it with some sort of bursary what it is: right-wing Rae Report bullshit.  I expect that kind of right-wing bullshit in my campus paper, not on babble.

Caissa

I was CFS-O Chair in 1992-3 at the time of the birth of OUSA. Although not an academic source as my good friend Al-Q points out Wikipedia does a good job of discussing the formation and early years of OUSA. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontario_Undergraduate_Student_Alliance

 

I strongly believe that education is a right and therefore support the abolition of tuition fees. They and the subsequent debt incurred by students are an impediment to working class children pursuing pse. Not all student leaders are from the upper middle class; my background is solidly working class.

Rabble should be promoting CFS and CFS-O not OUSA.

Iskra

I posted this comment after the Bonnar article as well. I hope that it remains there:

Frankly, I am a bit stunned by John Bonnar's uncritical coverage of OUSA - which has consistently advocated a pro-Harris and pro-McGuinty line of supporting tuition fee increases and larger student loans. I have followed Bonnar's photo journalism for years and I have always been impressed by the profile he gives to the most progressive causes and organizations, even when the issue isn't well known (ie. Street Health's firing of Gaetan Heroux).

So what gives now? The OUSA doesn't lobby to make education more affordable, they lobby for more student loans (and sometimes grants), but all of the financial aid (and do-gooder measures to improve food banks) in the world will never have a positive impact on those who need it most if tuition fees are allowed to continue to increase so dramatically. Fee increases artificially increase financial need and then government apologists like OUSA are there to offer more student debt. Some help!

Why do low income kids have to graduate with a mountain of debt that will negatively impact their career and family choices? Especially when you consider that those who earn less after graduation (women and visible minorities most notably) will pay more for their education over a longer period of time through the compound interest. I can see why the McGuinty government might thoughtlessly advocate such regressive public policy, but why would any self-described "student representatives" undermine their own member's interests so blatantly?

When OUSA was founded in the early 90's (I was a student at U of T where we fought off membership), they supported an immediate tuition fee increase of 30%. Today OUSA reps declare their support for tuition fees indexed to CPI. Well, this is bullshit. OUSA's first goal was achieved over and again! Fees have increased by 200% since the early 1990s - increasing way faster than CPI - and by endorsing further "inflationary" fee increases, they are saying that Ontario's current fee levels (which are the highest in the country) are just right. At best, they are endorsing the STATUS QUO. In fact, their foodbank campaign and support for income contingent loans are simply strategies to make the current access crisis more palatable.

I still haven't answered my own question: why would these self-described "student representatives" undermine their own member's interests so blatantly?

Because they aren't student activists, they are careerists who are trying to land themselves jobs!

The first Executive Director of OUSA was hired out of his position by the Harris government's own Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities at a time when university operating budgets were being slashed by 20% (he still works there today). As near as I can tell, at least 2 other OUSA E.D.s were also hired by the Harris government, one was hired by Bob Rae to lead the ill-famed Rae Review and then by Michael Ignatieff. As recently as last week an OUSA staffer was hired by the same Ministry of Training Colleges and Universiites (this time under the McGuinty government) that cut the popular tuition fee freeze in 2006 with no objection from OUSA. 

How can you put pressure on a government and slip them a resume at the same time?

No wonder OUSA news releases never challenge bad government policy of any kind. 

I think this kind of opportunism needs to be challenged on Rabble, not given a soapbox and a megaphone (oh, wait, OUSA reps have never touched a megaphone in their lives!).

 

remind remind's picture

Ah no worries..... apparently some of the educational elite want education to be elite and just for them and their classist regurgitated musings, no competition allowed and they are even prepared, it seems, to argue that  human rights guarantees them of the right to face no competition from their "lessers".

 

 

 

spatrioter

500_Apples wrote:
There's so much fail in that analogy. Biggest error: Rich people are not more likely to get sick than poor people, like you assume.

I'm not sure if that's a straw man or just misinterpretation of the analogy. It is argued that post-secondary education makes people more likely to earn more money, and therefore students should have to pay for it themselves. Although that is arguable (today, more than 70% of jobs require some form of post-secondary education, so it's more like the new high school), even if true, you could apply the same argument to health care.

People who receive more health care are more likely to live longer, be more employable, and make more money. Does that mean people should have to pay for the health care they receive, because they get a personal benefit out of it? Should people have to pay for high school education because they get a personal benefit? And so on...

Even if graduates make more money, they would end up paying more in a progressive taxation system when they graduate if that were the case. Wouldn't it be better to tax them more if they do end up making more money, instead of creating an up-front barrier to education in the first place?

The student debt system also has the effect of graduates being forced into fields that are more profitable instead of those which are more socially beneficial. Law school graduates with mortgage-sized debts simply can't afford to work for community legal aid clinics.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Does that mean people should have to pay for the health care they receive, because they get a personal benefit out of it? Should people have to pay for high school education because they get a personal benefit? And so on...

 

We already do pay (directly) for a portion of our health care (including prescription drugs, dentistry, eye exams, delisted procedures, cosmetic surgery, and so on). The state pays some, and we pay some. I'm not sure why, in principle, the same strategy applied to education is so reviled.

 

And as noted above, even if tuition were free, "going to university" would still not be free, nor anything near. Better you leave tuition untouched and lobby for free rent and books for students. Anyone who's been to university should know that that's far more expensive than an undergrad tuition.

lover0fighter

So a friend of mine emailed me a link to this discussion forum because my comments were deleted off the the John Bonnar article.

I did not say anything in flamatory, just that Rabble should look into having critical post-secondary coverage since alot of their material is from informed by the discourse of the student right and not much is posted from those who are actually active on campuses working on social justice and democracy issues.

I did point out that it appared that the source for his blog must have come from a press release which he had obtained from OUSA prior to its public release. His post and the press release was dated for March 1, but I made the comment on the forum on February 29.

--- --- ---

"I think it would be great if whoever rabble has covering issues around post-secondary education was a tad more hep to the milieu than to just unwittingly paraphrase the press release of one side of the schism among student organizations. Doesn't make Rabble look very smart."

A completly agree. I think that it would add to discussions on post-secondary education in Canada if there was a counter-balance to the Macleans blogers who are often leading the calls of privitisation, attacks on student activism, unions and deregulation. It is too bad that Rabble hasn't become the space for alternative ideas.

spatrioter

Snert wrote:
We already do pay (directly) for a portion of our health care (including prescription drugs, dentistry, eye exams, delisted procedures, cosmetic surgery, and so on). The state pays some, and we pay some. I'm not sure why, in principle, the same strategy applied to education is so reviled.

And that is something progressives have been trying to change about the health care system for a long time. Tommy Douglas was a staunch supporter of universal pharmacare.

All I said was that user fees for public services is a right-wing idea. I'm not saying you can't be right wing. Just don't pretend your ideas are progressive.

Quote:
And as noted above, even if tuition were free, "going to university" would still not be free, nor anything near. Better you leave tuition untouched and lobby for free rent and books for students. Anyone who's been to university should know that that's far more expensive than an undergrad tuition.

Tuition fees in our province are increasing at 4.5% per year, a much higher rate than most rents and CPI in Ontario. If we can't convince a democratically elected government to reduce or eliminate user fees for public services we already pay for in taxes, what makes you think we'll win free rent and books from private landlords and companies?

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:

Tuition fees in our province are increasing at 4.5% per year, a much higher rate than most rents and CPI in Ontario. If we can't convince a democratically elected government to reduce or eliminate user fees for public services we already pay for in taxes, what makes you think we'll win free rent and books from private landlords and companies?

 

Maybe we won't. But when I was a student, a full 10% cut in tuition would have paid approximately 20 days of my rent. If tuition fees are given as the real barrier to higher ed, then I think we ought to make sure they really are the real barrier. If tuition fees were to be cut in half, then frozen, I think you'd still have lots and lots of students unable to attend university. What would you say to the governement then? "Oh, sorry, uh, I guess we got the wrong end of this"? "Please reinstitute the loans and grants that we just finished criticizing"?

spatrioter

Perfect solution fallacy.

And who was criticizing grants?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

spatrioter, meet Snert. He is not interested in student debt, education or tuition at all. He is interested in argument--well, contrarianism mostly.

Those are great posts Iskra and lover0fighter. I hope they get reinstated on the original blogs, and that we can get an explanation as to why they were removed.

Speaking of that, any mods reading? Any news on that front?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Catchfire wrote:
Speaking of that, any mods reading? Any news on that front?

There are some more comments up on John Bonnar's latest piece, and kim elliott has responded to the concerns there:

kim elliott wrote:
As is common with blogs, the author controls comments. As a result of posting anything about OUSA this blogger has been subjected to viscious personal attacks by email and in comments. As a result, he (I presume - I've been in touch with him to verify this) has been deleting all comments - not just yours, but comments also criticising  your comments. 

As the author of the blog, he is within his rights to do this, though clearly it isn't the usual rabble practice.

Your concerns are noted however, and other CFS supporters have also noted this concern on our moderated discussion boards.

Snert Snert's picture

 

Was that provided for me, or for those who believe that the solutions suggested by the OUSA aren't perfect enough?

aka Mycroft

OUSA was actually advocating tuition increases in the early 90s, arguing that they were necessary because universities were underfunded. This was during the Rae government and it was fatal since it gave them the wriggle room they needed whereas if the student movement had been united in its call for tuition cuts it would have been march harder for the NDP to do the opposite. I heard a story at the time that Floyd Laughren was actually pushing to eliminate tuition in order to emulate what Ireland had done (many credit Ireland's economic boom in the 90s to this policy, at least in part) but he was overruled by Rae - so the NDP was actually at least thinking about free tuition and a had there not been a split message from students - who knows what might have happened.

Of course, that was almost 20 years ago and OUSA's position and personnel have changed in the meantime but, still, I don't think I'd ever call OUSA "left wing" or even progressive. They are basically wannabe lobbyists trying to impress politicians and bureaucrats rather than influence them. Indeed, OUSA EDs and researchers have been more successful at getting themselves hired by the Harris, Eves and McGuinty governments than they've had in changing policy.

George Victor

Snert wrote:

 

Was that provided for me, or for those who believe that the solutions suggested by the OUSA aren't perfect enough?

Snert, may I say (as another "white male") that you are giving our category of Homo sapiens a bad name here?

Snert Snert's picture

Of course you can, George.  Of course you can.

aka Mycroft

Oh, and it was also around this time that OUSA was lobbying the provincial government to eliminate its grant program and instead use Income Contingent Loans.  The Rae government took part of this advice and killed the student grants program meaning many students accumulated tens of thousands of dollars worth of student debt that they otherwise would not have had. While ultimately the Rae government is to blame it certainly didn't help matters that OUSA was actually advocating the elimination of the grants.

skdadl

Anything I could write would be off-topic in the way that Catchfire warns against @ 24, and nowhere near as good as what he then writes off-topic himself. Wink

 

I think it is always good to be reminded, though, that progressives can be srsly derailed when the politics of resentment leads us to endorse anti-intellectualism, just as when we find ourselves on the defensive in the face of attacks on organized labour as elite, or when some progressives lose faith in civil liberties because they are supposedly dated bourgeois values.

 

There are no genuine democracies anywhere. Some societies have been able to go a good long distance towards giving life to the underlying structures and principles of democracy, and we are lucky to be living in one of those places, damned lucky and dumb lucky. We still have a long way to go, but it is never progressive to start clawing back the just advances that we have made, even if it's only some of us who've been lucky enough to climb another rung.

 

Me, I find the utilitarian discussions of education just *this* short of obscene. If people with degrees -- but c'mon, now: some degrees but not others -- are making a lot more money than most of us, that has next to nothing to do with learning, and it is not a reason to bar anyone from the special kind of education that university is supposed to be, the place where you learn that you are actually not a student any longer but a peer. (Ok: you're also a student for life. But you're supposed to learn that you are free of your teachers, and if you have a teacher who isn't trying to waken you to that, you have a bad teacher.)

 

That learning, or organized labour, has produced financially privileged groups is obviously a problem, but the problem is not labour or learning. Of course tuition should be free. Our skilled crafts and trades should be running decent apprenticeship programs that guarantee satisfying work. Do we live in a world anywhere close to that? No. Do we stop fighting for it? Why would we?

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