Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Attacking the ATAC mindset" Mar. 2, 2000
eather Snider seemed to suggest a misunderstanding of the Five Point Program, the organizing platform for the Alberta Tuition Abolition Coalition. We would certainly not think that our degrees should be handed to us or that we should not have to work for it. Quite the contrary, we want degrees to be made dependent upon the hard work of the student.
The first point that affordability of post-secondary education is generally not dependent upon a students' work, but the size of their parents' bank account. Thus, we can see that education becomes not a matter of individual merit and hard work, but inherited privilege.
Secondly, the hard work, which should be made the criteria of academic studies, should be relevant to academic performance. If access to education is to be restricted, it should be on the basis of standards relevant to education. Tuition abolition is not a radical idea, it is the reality in almost every industrialized nation besides Canada and the US.
In those countries, entry and progress in educational institutions is dependent directly on hard work: the academic standards are extremely high. Here in Calgary, we see the opposite: falling academic standards and increasing costs. This translates into a situation where degrees are not based upon hard work, but birth into a wealthy family or, in exceptional cases, the size of a student's own bank account--neither measures of a student's work in academy.
As to whether scholarships are the be-all-end-all answer, I can only speak for myself, but I had a 3.88 gpa last year, and was very active in student life, but I did not get a single cent of scholarship money from the university.
Do I work hard? Besides my work in my individual classes, I have always taken close to, if not a full, coarse load. For the last three years, I have also worked weekday evenings Monday to Friday, and I have had to struggle to stretch my paycheques every month. There is a very good chance that my exclusion from scholarships is more political in nature, but the point stands that scholarships are not the full answer. Time after time, it is made clear that cost is the main barrier to an education, and not genuine, relevant hard work.