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Bird's Dino fee comments hypocritical, says reader

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Editors, the Gauntlet,
Re: "Athletics levy unjust," March 30, 2000

In the March 30 Gauntlet, Bird's letter protested the Athletic Advisory Council's decision to raise athletic fees by 50 per cent during the next two years. I agree with the sentiments that the decision and the process by which it was made were undemocratic and unfair to the student body. However, I am deeply offended by the hypocrisy with which you made your argument.

In the Feb. 3 issue of the Gauntlet, you also wrote a letter defending the University of Calgary Board of Governors' need to raise tuition. You sir, were wrong.

You mentioned that the Auditor General "investigated" the SU claims that the university had "cooked the books." The AG found nothing wrong with the accounting practices employed by the U of C. However, the AG only pronounces on things if they are illegal. The SU never, ever claimed the university was doing anything illegal. They merely showed that the university was deceptively presenting the "facts" to the Board. It's no surprise the AG didn't come up with anything, after all, the AG audits the university's financials every year. Still, the U of C never properly addressed the laundry list of deception the SU presented to it last year. I wonder why you, Mr. Bird and SU President Rob South didn't intelligently question the university's inventive accounting.

Mr. Bird, this year you and Mr. South fell victim to the divide and conquer strategy the university and the province use to avoid responsibility. The university tells us to complain to the province, while the province tells us that the university sets tuition levels. As a lowly student, I get caught in the middle and (forgive my language) get screwed.

The members of the BoG should be responsible for tuition levels. They are some of the most powerful people in this province and if they ever took a stand on tuition, the issue would have a vastly superior chance of being dealt with by the province than if students get on a bus and simply ask for more money. By raising tuition levels year after year, the Board refuses to take a stand against the province.

Mr. Bird, this year, you and Mr. South rode on the coat-tails of the U of C's fear of student protest. Would we have got a better deal by protesting? Perhaps, perhaps not. But neither you nor Mr. South even asked students like me what we wanted. Did you take it to your councils to vote on? Did you hold plebiscites? What about Town Hall meetings? I didn't think so.

In 1996/97, I was told by the BoG that we would have reached the tuition cap by now. It is unfortunate that the tuition cap policy happens to have huge loopholes that the university can exploit. We should hold the university accountable for this exploitation. Certainly the province should be held accountable for underfunding, but the university has more money now, in constant dollars, than at any other time in its history. Why, then, do students keep getting (once again, forgive my language) screwed?

After the 1999 tuition hike, I cried outside the Red and White Club out of pride of my fellow students. After this year's hike, I cried in the Dinning Centre out of shame of my fellow students. I hope next year, the only tears I'll shed will be those of joy.

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