On Nov. 14, Ralph Klein made a guest appearance at convocation and insulted students.
"I'm angry that Klein would have made comments like this he knows to be false," said Kate Kimberley, Students' Union president. "It was totally inappropriate to make those comments where he did, when he did."
Klein stated, after his convocation address that students agree with rising tuition because they have not protested.
"He's ignoring students," said Kimberley. "Students have been hit directly in the pocket book. Klein is implying we haven't noticed any change--it's totally untrue and it's insulting."
Jack Ady, Alberta minister of advanced education, said Klein didn't intend his remarks to be taken as an insut. However, Klein made similar remarks at a recent conference at the University of Alberta that were taken by students to be insulting.
According to Ady, students are very involved and have greatly affected the state of Alberta education.
"I was surprised at Klein's comments," said Murray Fraser, University of Calgary president. "It is my view that students have acted responsibility in both internal and external relations. It may be, however, their representations have gone unnoticed."
Kimberley said the premier has a duty to stay in touch which his ministers, and if he had, "he wouldn't have said those words, which were not in anger but in ignorance."
The ignorance Kimberley refers to is of both student involvement and the damage funding cuts have caused to post-secondary education.
"When Klein says we aren't protesting, it implies the cuts aren't hurting students--they are," said Lance Kayfish, SU vice-president (external). "For an area of the population who traditionally don't have a lot of money, students are sucking up a lot of the debt."
Provincial cuts have forced tuition to sky-rocket, increasing more than $1,000 over the last four years and is expected to increase well over $100 per year until at least the year 2000. At the same time the provincial government is forcing tuition to rise, the value of a degree is dropping. Statistics Canada reports that the annual earnings are down and the unemployment rate is up for graduates.
"Students are being forced to make a sacrifice and it's hurting them, anyone who says differently doesn't see the big picture," said Kayfish.
The damage caused by cuts goes deeper than just the pocket book. Pouring money into the debt instead of education aided in placing the U of C dead last in the Maclean's magazine university rankings; cuts are causing the U of C to lose respect nationally.
"Make no mistake: the U of C, once a fine, striking university with grand dreams, is now deeply demoralized and sliding into government-induced decay," wrote Calgary Herald columnist Don Braid.
"What makes this situation worse is that Klein won't acknowledge there's a problem," said Kimberley. "When we protest, Klein claims he won't blink. And when we voice our opinions through communication channels set up bt the government, he claims it's evidence we are in agreement.
"His comments have cast a shadow of mistrust on future generations."