Those post secondary students in Trail wishing to raise the issue of high tuition costs and growing student debt will have to take to the trail today to lend their voices to the student protest being staged in Castlegar.
Called Students National Day of Action, Selkirk College students across the West Kootenay region are hosting various forms of awareness raising and protest, but any Trail campus action has been pre-empted in favour of Castlegar, said Nedine Scott, Canadian Federation of Students Union organizer for the day.
She said because Trail was so close to the main campus in Castlegar, any Trail event was folded into Castlegar’s as an opportunity for students to get together and fight for a common cause, even at Selkirk College.
“There are always advantages with attending a post secondary institution that is local … student debt is going to be accumulated no matter where you are, as are rising tuition costs,” she said. “So this really brings all of the students together.”
She said the cost of living for students is rising, even in Trail, but unfortunately the funding to post secondary institutions is not. In the past eight years, tuition fees have risen by more than 100 per cent in B.C., resulting in massive increases to student debt.
As a result, B.C. students and their families face an average debt load of $27,000 upon graduation, higher than the national average, said Scott, and it affects a person’s future, making finding a good paying job right after graduation a necessity.
Starting at 11 a.m. in the “Pit,” a roster of speakers will be followed by a rally to get students riled up. With spirits churning, stomachs will be too as a free macaroni and cheese dinner will be served, a symbolic meal all students and former students can relate to.
A wall of photos of students with their debt sentences will be created and posted as a visual representation of the collective student debt.
The students are calling for increased funding to post secondary institutions and post secondary education, reducing student debt, reducing tuition fees and eliminating interest on all student loans.
“Those are the things that affect all of the students at Selkirk College,” she said.
A jam session, a downtown march and free tacos afterwards highlight some of the student events in Nelson, while in Grand Forks the mayor, along with students and instructors, will be speaking and sharing their stories of debt woe. There are also two smaller events planned in Kalso and Nakusp.