By Fabian Mayer, January 8 2015 —
The 2.2 per cent jump is the maximum allowed in Alberta this year, as tuition increases can’t exceed the rate of inflation. This comes alongside new market modifiers approved by the provincial government on Dec. 22.
Student BOG representative Michael Smith was the only member to vote against the inflation-tied tuition increase. He said he would only vote for tuition hikes under special circumstances.
“The only time I would do it is if I seriously saw that every student’s life was going to get two per cent better because of the two per cent more money going to the university. I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” Smith said.
The other undergraduate student on the board, SU president Jarett Henry, voted in favour of the 2.2 per cent increase.
Henry said he did not consider voting against the tuition increase to protest the continued used of market modifiers.
“The rationale behind [the vote] was that in contrast to market modifiers, which are an increase far above the rate of inflation, tying tuition increases to inflation is a reasonable compromise between student’s ability to pay and the cost of running the in-stitution,” Henry said.
BOG also approved fee increases up to five per cent in all residence buildings. Fees for first-year buildings were expected to rise 8.5 per cent, but will now only rise five.
Along with higher residence fees, the board approved a controversial plan to charge premiums for rooms with better views in new residence buildings. The rooms are identical to their lower-floor counterparts, but cost $100 more per month.
Both Henry and Smith said they voted against residence fee increases because they object to tiered rates.
“I’m bothered by the fact that we’re now changing the prices around on different floors,” Smith said. “It leaves us with sort of a social hierarchy within the residence buildings based on how much you can afford.”
Residence meal plan rates will also rise 3.5 per cent. Parking rates will stay the same.
Henry and Smith are the only undergraduate students on the 21-member board. The SU is trying to increase that number to four. Increasing the number of students on the board is one of the group’s provincial advocacy priorities.
Smith believes undergraduates can still play an important role on the board, even with their limited power to shape voting outcomes.
“Jarett and I both spend a lot of time pointing things out that are happening on campus that the board may not be aware of,” Smith said.