23,000 students want day planners

In order to get them, they had to sign a lame petition


The York Federation of Students is celebrating it’s latest scheme; figuring out how to get 23,000 students to sign a petition asking the government give money to lower tuition.

Instead of just asking students to sign the petition; The Excalibur reports that students had to sign the petition in order to get their day planners.

This is a new low, even by the standards of the York Federation of Students.

Make you wonder how many students are really asking the government to give them more money?


23,000 students want day planners

  1. Given that the students’ fees likely paid for those planners, I would think that this would be a breach of fiduciary trust, or at least a breach of trust in a more general context. Ransom at a minimum ;)

    (And to be more ridiculous) Maybe YFS should move away from advocacy and into “pirate justice.” Y’arr!

  2. seriously? was it a slow news day or something?

    the only student who would have a problem with that are those students who are against lower tuition fees. no offense to them, but they should stand in line and sign the petition or buy their own high-priced dayplanner in protest.

    Joey, are you a student? I cant tell, but you seem to keep writing about stuff that actual students dont care about. There are student unions like my own who are voting against supporting the canadian peace alliance and the UofT 14 and you classify this as a new low? what planet are you from???

  3. Well that was stupid.

    The York Federation of Students (YFS?) just shot themselves in the foot. Now when they deliver this petition to the government, the government can blow them right off. The politicians can quite rightly point out that at least some of the signatures were coerced, and as such not a true endorsement of the message behind the petition.


  4. I just checked the article linked and the accusations are very vague: “some students reported (…)”. To claim that 23 000 students (or significant part thereof) were somehow forced to sign a petition to get their handbook, the newspaper should have more conclusive evidence than that.


    Moreover, getting 50% of students on a campus to sign a petition to lower tuition fees, which is not something especially controversial, does not require any coercion, only sufficient time and volunteers. A few weeks in the beginning of the semester and the volunteers of a large students’ union like the YFS could certainly have done it without any controversial means.

    As a comparison, in the Fall 2006 at U of Ottawa (prior to the last CFS day of action), a handful of volunteers, starting after orientation week (thus missing an important opportunity to collect signautres) without significant students’ union backing, were able to collect 8000 signatures for lower tuition in about four weeks, equal to a quarter of the student population.

    When we passed the petition in a undergrad class, we typically got over 80% of the people signing on. So getting a large % of your student population to sign is limited only by your time and volunteers more than by the level of support for lower tuition.

  5. I wonder if there might be a little overzealous reporting here (and when is Macleans not overzealous when given an opportunity to bash progressive student unions?). It seems to be common practice for student unions whose members face a big issue like tuition to put some petitions and campaign paraphernalia and have organizers at the tables where they are giving out Orientation swag like day planners. A lot of students would probably be encouraged to sign the petition when they come to the table, although I find it a little hard to imagine any student organizer forcing someone to sign in order to get a day planner. That’s just stupid.

    It is sad that a lot of these students who did honestly sign the petition will now be “blown off” as M put it above.

    However, I have to say that in my (mostly anecdotal, although I could probably dig up some stats) experience that except for certain traditional bastions of conservatism and students from upper-class backgrounds, the majority of students (and people in general) do support frozen or lower tuition.

  6. Seems Joey’s post is missing the other side of the story:

    Gilary Massa, YFS vice-president external, denied these claims. “Our message is we’re encouraging students to sign the petition. But I wouldn’t call it a condition; it wasn’t a trade-off or anything,” she said. “We would tell them to pick up their agenda as well while they were [signing].” Rather, she said the signatures represented genuine enthusiasm from the students who signed it.

  7. I’d love to have lower tuition fees; but in the context of society’s limited resources, I’m not that greedy. Let me explain.

    I grew up in the inner-city of Hamilton. I’m the only one of my group of friends to go to university. There are many socio-economical reasons for this; tuition fees are not a reason for them not attending university and is not a barrier to my attending university.

    Yes, I will graduate with a massive debt. Yes, it will take me more than 10 years to pay it off. However, my quality of life will still be greater than what I would enjoy had I not gone to university. I’m making an investment in myself and society (the government) is supporting me in doing so.

    My position on university funding is that I rather the government invest in primary education in economically challenged areas.

    Right now, many students from my background cannot get admitted into university due to an inability to compete with people from better socio-economic situations. (Marks and the poor quality of our inner-city schools which are given the same resources as suburban schools)

    I believe, as a university student, I’m a privileged member of society; I rather the government give a hand up to somebody who really needs it. Provide me with access to the resources (loans) necessary to get my education and focus the limited resources of society into addressing more important concerns.

    Nobody said university would be easy. I work at a parking garage to pay the bills. I carry a full course load and find time to maintain this blog.

    Here’s a question; why do all these groups, such as the peace alliance, who believe students are horribly poor always expect students to fund them?

    We have the CFS increasing its fees every year, we have all those “solidarity” groups demanding more and more money from students; and when a students says “enought!” we somehow become a “regressive element.”

    The hypocrisy is sickening.

  8. For the record, when I said it’s typical for 80% of students in a classroom, when presented a petition about reducing tuition fees, would sign it, I was not implying to insult the students who don’t believe this is the way to go.

    Clearly accessibility to PSE is not a one-dimensional issue, and the crowds of people who support lower tuition fees and those who don’t are not homogeneous groups, so certainly there’s no reason to call one or another “selfish”, it doesn’t help the debate at all.

    Joey Coleman might have a strong opinion on the question, but I don’t think there’s any strong evidence from the blog as whole that he’s being more loyal to a political party or another on that respect. Convictions on a particular issue might lead to supporting certain policies by certain parties and opposing others, but that does not imply “partisanship” in the electoral sense, which is something that a lot of people don’t seem to understand.

    On the other side, I did criticize this blog entry, but only on the issue of evidence for its claims. After reading the Excalibur article myself, I would not have jumped to the conclusion expressed in this blog (i.e. “23 000 students want day planners… In order to get them, they had to sign a lame petition.”). The reasons why I think it’s exaggerated are outlined in my first response.

  9. Selfish was not the word I was looking to imply. Self-interest was more the meaning of my statement.

    I see politics as being the balances of interests. I’m being self-interested by speaking in favour of a diversion of funds from universities to inner-city primary education.

    Such a diversion would benefit my “tribe” (for a lack of a better description off the top of my head) which is another example of self-interest.

  10. First off, what is the deal with the limited resources thing? Plenty of other countries can offer free tuition AND better primary schools in economically disadvantaged areas and anti-poverty initiatives than us. Perhaps if governments weren’t more interested in slashing taxes for the rich and all this neoliberal bull and pissing all the money away on imperialist wars, there would be enough money for everyone’s social needs.

    And “all these groups” (with the exception of student unions, which do speak up for students and provide benefits) are all optional groups that people can join if they agree with. In fact, a lot of lefty groups have lower membership fees for students and often waive fees if you are in financial difficulty. And compared to tuition, these fees are usually pretty insignificant. My membership in the Peace Alliance costs $10/year. My tuition is in the $5000-6000 range.

    Besides, if the Peace Alliance is bad because they charge membership, how about the Young Conservatives?

    But maybe you’re right Joey. If the Peace Alliance raised their yearly dues from $10 to $12, I would be in deep financial trouble. But if my university raised my fees from $5000 to $6000, that $1000 difference is insignificant compared to the $2 from the Peace Alliance. And dropping out of the Peace Alliance because of a lack of funds is so much worse for my future than dropping out of university.

  11. The CFS, I mean UVSS, (hard to tell those two apart) was doing the same thing at UVic. But who wouldn’t want to pay less tuition, of course most students want to pay less to learn. Same goes for petitions on better transit, if you use a service and pay a fee for it, why wouldn’t you sign a petition asking a higher power to lower the cost of using the service?

  12. You have freedom of association, if you want to join the Peace Alliance, then join it.

    The problem is that students don’t have any choice when it comes to student union fees. I’m not opposed to the Peace Alliance, I’m opposed to them milking students’ unions for money.

  13. Too funny.

  14. I would also have to echo “user’s” comment here, that tuition fees can very well be eliminated, like they have been in most Scandinavian and European countries, as well as other countries which may be considered less than “first world” – Cuba, Libya and Brazil.

    The CFS does a lot of research into the barriers of PSE, and $$$ is the number one barrier. And, over 80% of Canadians believe tuition fees are too high.

    I think that there is a misconception that putting a price on education somehow gives it more value. This is false! Tuition fees have been continuously increasing, while government funding has been decreasing.

    Just to put things into perspective Joey- the gov’t plans on spending 490 billion on the military over 20 years- that same amount of money could pay for tuition fees across Canada for 109 years.

  15. Also, I’d like to add that the benefits of the students’ union outweighs the cost. Just a reminder Joey that student unions are not-for-profit, so all the money that is collected, gets back to the students.

    York’s fee: approx $42 per year.

    For that you get all sorts of services such as the day planner, discounts on tickets for movies, basketball games, other entertainment, guest speakers, free concerts, FREE orientation kits (and really good ones, I might add), club funding, a student advocate, local faxing, essay printing service, ISIC card, campaign materials so that the union can advocate on behalf of students who are unable to participate, and so much more.

    And sure, YFS has one of the lower fees of the country (and the largest student body), universities with higher levies are only able to provide better services.

    It’s the power of the collective, and the community that can provide more benefit. To me, that is the exact opposite of self interest.

    Kind of like when you were a kid and everyone would pitch in two bucks to be able to buy a whole pizza, since $2 wouldn’t buy you a slice.

  16. student;

    If the fee is such a great deal, why not make it optional? Let students purchase the package you’re describing voluntarily. See how many opt in. Do you really think most would?

  17. Andrew –

    On the topic of voluntary student unionism (VSU), which is essentially what you’re discussing, as I pointed out earlier

    “It seems to me that the VSU system essentially removes the reason for having a students’ union in the first place. By opting-in for representation, the students’ union goes down to some club status which loses much of its advocacy power. By opting-in for services, you might just as well have a series of independent businesses or non-profit organizations for each service, as there is no central pooling and redistribution of resources.”

    (Complete argument here: http://oncampus.macleans.ca/education/2008/08/22/more-vsu/)

  18. At uOttawa, they gave away t-shirts in exchange for signatures on the Lower Tuition petition…

  19. Jane: Are you claiming that some students wanted to wear “lower tuition” t-shirts, but they didn’t want to sign a “lower tuition” petition, so they were refused the t-shirts?

    Because that would be the proper parallel to the allegations made by the Excalibur at York.

  20. I worked for the company that used to handle all of the advertising and production for York’s planners (back before they were made by the CFS). I know that if this would have happened when they (Kalendar Productions) were making the planners, the student federation would have been liable to a lot of big advertisers… if distribution wasn’t fulfilled as a result of the survey. I wonder if their planner advertisers know what happened this year?

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