PREDICTABLY, student youth took a different view to those aired by working adults in the controversy that followed the release of the Bladen Report on higher - education financing (see editorial, page 4). The way the students saw it, the conclusions fell between two stools.
The report recommended massive government spending of more than $300 million in the next year (federal aid now amounts to $80 million a year) and at the same time rejected “in principle” the elimination of stu-
dent fees, currently about $100 million
The principle is based on the idea that universities will retain their independence from government interference if they continue charging fees. For an arts student at McGill this year it’s $635 worth of expensive principle, and for a medical student, $800.
Viewing the Bladen Report from that perspective, the 140,000-member Canadian Union of Students, which has been lobbying for free university education, blasted the findings as a “meagre attempt” to deal with the financial problems facing students. And as a more obvious move “to preserve the status quo, and as a result, existing social injustice.”
And student youth, who seem to have taken it upon themselves to be keepers of society’s conscience and see everything from marijuana to Viet Nam as a moral issue, seized on the social injustice of university fees.
The University of British Columbia’s student paper Ubyssey admitted that the report had some good things but wondered at “the good dean’s opposition to free education.” (Vincent Bladen, an economist, is dean of Arts and Sciences at University of Toronto.)
Queen’s University Journal said the recommendations “sounded as if they came from a social bureaucracy rather than a viable intellectual community.”
The McGill Daily dismissed the report as “a dismal flop,” and the Daily's soft-spoken and articulate editor, Pattrick McFadden, appeared on CBCTV’s Viewpoint to lash out at the right-wing element on university campuses.
Toronto university students staged a walk on the Ontario legislature at Queen’s Park where they listened to the minister of education, William Davis, carefully sidestep the students’ charge of social injustice.
The president of the University of Toronto, Claude T. Bissell, also took issue with Bladen. He told reporters he was not convinced that without student fees universities would lose their independence: “If there were a guarantee that that income would be covered by additional grants, I would have no objections to elimination of all fees, gradual or immediate,” he said.
As a sidelight to the whole issue, Newfoundland’s premier, Joey Smallwood, added a boost to his muchpublicized one free year of university. He announced to Memorial University students that the government would become the first to provide free university education for five years to any student whose parents resided in the province. And also, that “salaries” from $50 to $100 a month would be paid to every student. The students, who had crowded into the main gymnasium to boo him, gave him a standing ovation. And from St. Boniface school at Ramea, a small island community off the southwest coast of Newfoundland, came a telegram: “England had her Churchill. We have our Joey.” IAN ADAMS
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