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Daily Bulletin

Wednesday, January 28, 1998

University of Waterloo • Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
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Rally marks day of protest

A rally in the Student Life Centre, followed by a march to Needles Hall, will mark today's "national day of protest" over tuition fees and student debt, but they're happening without the support of UW's Federation of Students.

"Although the Federation of Students would not discourage those who wish to participate in the Day of Action, we cannot support them either," says Fed president Mario Bellabarba. "The student body of the UW voted against these kinds of protests when they agreed, through referendum, to withdraw our membership from the Canadian Federation of Students in 1993. Since the Day of Action is a CFS sponsored event, we feel it would go against the will of UW students to lend our support to this protest in any way."

[Stop debt logo] The CFS has announced the theme of the day as "Stop student debt -- national grants now." CFS leaders met with federal finance minister Paul Martin on Friday to tell him that "students are taking to the streets next week because the down-loading of the deficit on to individual students has compromised access to post-secondary education. If the Finance Minister really wants to address this issue, he will put some of the 'deficit dividend' towards a national system of grants, as well as setting the stage for provincial tuition fee freeze by reinvesting in provincial transfers," CFS also says that Martin, prime minister Jean Chrétien and their Liberal colleagues "have done more to erode quality and accessibility for post-secondary education than any government in Canadian history. They have not only downsized federal contributions to education but they have also decreased funding for the research councils, allowed student loans to rise through the roof and paved the way for increased corporate control over Canada's post-secondary education system."

UW's Federation looks for a national voice not to CFS, which does represent students from such universities as Guelph, McMaster, and York, but to the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. CASA has expressed cautious support for the idea of income-contingent-repayable student loans, as long as they're set up in a way that doesn't let the debt burden accumulate indefinitely.

CASA is sponsoring "National Student Debt Day" this coming Monday. Waterloo will see some activities endorsed by the Federation on that occasion; details are pending.

Meanwhile, today's demonstrations at UW are being organized by the Waterloo Public Interest Research Group. WPIRG speaks in a news release, issued yesterday, about "skyrocketing tuition fees, massive student debt loads, deep funding cuts for post-secondary education, increasing corporatization and privatization of campuses, and renewed government interest in income-contingent loan repayment schemes".

The release says "a massive student rally" will take place in the SLC great hall starting at 12:30. "UW professors, undergraduate and graduate students will speak. . . . After the rally, the students, staff and faculty will march to Needles Hall. . . . A banner bearing messages from students will be presented to President James Downey, with the expectation that he will forward the banner to the Board of Governors at their next meeting on February 3rd. The march will continue to other key locations on campus."

It goes on:

Students will be targeting senior administration and the Board of Governors. "All across the country students are giving up on the official consultation process. Here at UW, 18 of the 37 seats on the Board of Governors are controlled by corporations. In contrast there are only 14 seats for students, staff and faculty combined. There is no democracy on this campus," stated graduate student Davin Charney. University students are increasingly vocal about the role of corporations in shaping public education, as evidenced by the eight occupations at Ontario universities last winter.

Happy Days is here

Don't expect to encounter The Fonz in Samuel Beckett's version of "Happy Days", which opens tonight in the Humanities building studio theatre. Penned by the Nobel Prize (1969) winning Irish playwright who brought us "Waiting for Godot" and "Endgame", the UW drama department production has been described as "a surreal tragicomedy" in the tradition of the theatre of the absurd.

Characteristic of the genre in which individuals are trapped by "perfectly logical, demoralizing absurdity", "Happy Days" depicts a woman who "continues to prattle about the trivialities of life" as she gradually sinks into the ground. The half-buried Winnie is played by drama and English student Vicki Sloan, who's been in a number of previous productions both at UW and with Woodstock Little Theatre. Stephen Bailey, a drama and recreation and leisure studies major, plays Willie, her husband.

The minimalist production runs January 28 to 31 and February 4 to 7 in Studio 180. Tickets ($10, students $8) are available at the Humanities box office. Any resemblance to UW persons or situations is purely coincidental.

Of tigers . . . and volunteers

Today marks the Chinese New Year, the beginning of the Year of the Tiger, year 4696, recognized by Canada Post with a recent stamp issue and celebrated by Chinese around the world beginning with today's new moon. I dare say there will be plenty of parties this weekend, but UW's food services is marking the day itself with a Chinese New Year Dinner tonight in both Village I and Ron Eydt Village. "Fill in your ballot to win a plush tiger," a flyer adds. Gong xi fa cai!

The Volunteer Action Centre says it's looking for people to help fill several roles in the community: "spending time with infants and toddlers -- your time will enable young parents to participate in a group and receive support"; handling materials and helping customers at the Habitat ReStore; taking minutes at the monthly meeting of a charity's board of directors; keeping financial records as treasurer of "a living history museum". For more information, not to mention more volunteer opportunities, the VAC can be reached at 742-8610.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca -- (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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