What is college doing to ease burden of student debt?

I should like to share my reflections on Doug Henderson’s letter (March 11, Student Debt Load Unreasonable). Mr. Henderson is the President of the Selkirk College Faculty Association.

He brought back a flood of memories, some of which made me wince: overdue student loans and harassing calls that turned one’s core to jelly; day care and spiraling gasoline costs; sky-high interest rates and overall increases in the cost of living. So much for the promise of earning the big bucks after post-secondary graduation – at least in the short term.

Life gets in the way, of course, and so does divorce and even more debt. Student debt load today is higher but not any different than the difficulties faced by graduating students in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Somehow, one muddles through. Head up, shoulders back, one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward and don’t look back.

Many of today’s grads will be faced with similar mountains to climb. As Miley Cyrus sings, “There’s always gonna be another mountain; I’m always gonna wanna make it move; always gonna be an uphill battle…” In short, she points out that it’s about the climb, life’s climb and to keep on moving, keep climbing and keep faith.

I hear Mr. Henderson’s lament. Believe me, I do. But, what are he and his organization doing to ease students’ burden? (I can hear some of you swearing already.)

Although the example below is not about Selkirk College, it still provides a window to a significant part of the problem of any public service financed by taxpayers, based on their ability to pay.

When wages and benefits are 88 per cent of an operational budget, as in the case of School District 20, there’s not much left for books, equipment, lights, heat, janitorial and transportation.

The question to be asked in the case of Selkirk College is – what has caused its board to increase tuition fees and what has the faculty association done to mitigate the increase?

No doubt, every public service, including post secondary education, could use more and more money. Mr. Henderson appears to suggest that increasing corporate taxes will fix the problem.

Corporations are, of course, big, juicy targets for increased taxation that, if pushed to become uncompetitive, some will just move east to Alberta. They did it before, they’ll do it again.

B.C.’s social and business economy must find ways to co-exist and help balance, not kill the overall economy of this province. We don’t want to end up like Wisconsin.

Rose Calderon