Tuition Freeze Now holds Town Hall to discuss affordability

Organizers and interested students gathered to discuss how to eliminate tuition hikes for SFU students

TFN’s slogan “Students are not cash cows” on a banner on display during the event

By: Paige Riding, News Writer

Tuiton Freeze Now, an activist group at SFU, held a campus Town Hall on October 29. The Town Hall was held in Forum Chambers in the basement of the Maggie Benston Centre, where TFN representatives and interested guests joined together with the goal of spreading information and discussing the direction of TFN’s future campaigns. Core goals for TFN in the near future include speaking to the BC government about a two-year tuition freeze and increased funding to post-secondary institutions. 

At the event, representatives from TFN presented statistics about tuition fees and the results of the surveys they conducted related to unaffordability for students (ongoing on their website). The survey results overwhelmingly showed students feeling that tuition was too costly at SFU, which lead to significant hardship.

Representatives from TFN also spoke about ways to campaign against further hikes on tuition in the future. TFN was at the forefront of protests in the spring semester, when SFU passed a 2% hike in tuition for domestic students, and up to a 20% increase for international students depending on their faculty. Since then, TFN has continued to campaign for better consultation with students with regards to the cost of attending SFU.

TFN organizer Quentin Rowe-Codner spoke to The Peak via email about the event. 

“Now that we have the information from the university on the next tuition hike, we can now start to structure and plan out how we’re going to go forward in terms of messaging, in terms of demands and that sort of thing.” 

In October, SFU held budget consultations with the SFU community to discuss the upcoming 2020 budget.

Following the presentation, there was a general discussion period in which attendees broke into groups to brainstorm ideas for future TFN campaigns. Some suggestions included targeting and gearing campaigns towards specific campus populations, like teaching assistants (TAs). In this way, TAs may be able to bring this information to their tutorials, speaking directly to students about the goals of TFN. Another group mentioned the benefit of having TFN advocates present and vocal at SFU Board of Governors meetings. 

TFN organizer Annie Bhuiyan also spoke to The Peak via email. 

“Even though we have certain representatives who are talking to the Board of Governors, talking to the administrator, telling us about what’s going on and representing us, we still don’t know anything,” Bhuiyan wrote. “And for the most part, from what we understand, they don’t really know much either, so it hasn’t been a completely democratic process.”

Bhuiyan continued: “That’s why we called the Town Hall: so we can be democratic about it. Also, tuition is already too high. It can’t keep going up higher. This is something we need to keep fighting against until we get a tuition freeze and then we can push for things that are more affordable like more supplementary funding— eventually free tuition.”

Rowe-Codner added, “We’re definitely going to try and get the word out a lot more because SFU doesn’t do a very good job at letting students know what’s happening with regard to tuition, so it’s really on us unfortunately to have to do a lot of that awareness spreading and information campaign.”