Blue Chair initiative targets tuition fees

Campaign runs simultaneously in OUSA-affiliated schools

AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Julia Mitchell hopes the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s Blue Chair campaign will encourage students to lobby for lower tuition fees, improved teaching quality and increased scholarships, bursaries and grants for students in financial need. Last week seven universities associated with OUSA set up blue chairs around their campus to represent empty spaces students should be able to fill in universities.

Mitchell said campaign tries to raise awareness surrounding the obstacles preventing students from seeking post-secondary opportunities.

“A lot of students face barriers to attending post secondary education—cultural barriers, geographical barriers, and financial barriers,” she said. “We’re saying that every student should have an equal chance.”

All seven member schools—Queen’s, University of Western Ontario, McMaster University, University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, Brock University and University of Windsor—are running simultaneous campaigns.

Mitchell said the idea came up at a strategic planning retreat this past summer.

The chairs are set up in Stauffer Library, Mackintosh-Corry Hall, Ellis Hall, the JDUC, Leonard Hall and Ban Righ Hall.

Each chair displays information regarding barriers to post-secondary education, such as statistics showing that within the next 10 years, 70 per cent of jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. Mitchell says this campaigns important to make OUSA’s presence known throughout campus. “We want people to realize that OUSA is doing work for the student body, and to make sure everyone’s $2 [in mandatory student fees] isn’t going to waste.” AMS members give about $26,000 dollars a year to OUSA.

Mitchell said she hopes this initiative will urge the Ontario government to increase post-secondary funding. “Part of this is lobbying to the government to provide more funding and student financial aid,” she said.

The campaign runs until Thursday.

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This Thursday at 9 p.m. Alfie’s pub will host a fundraising party for OUSA. Donations will go to support an early outreach program.

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