Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer 

At the Simon Fraser Student Society’s (SFSS) Annual General Meeting (AGM), roughly 600 attendees voted in favour of condemning the university for tuition increases during the pandemic. Vice-President, Academic and Provost pro tem Jonathan Driver and Vice-President, Finance and Administration Martin Pochurko also said in an email statement that SFU proposes that these increases continue for the next two years.

The Peak discussed the SFSS’s plans to continue to push for a tuition freeze with SFSS President Osob Mohamed. According to Mohamed, they’re “formalizing [their] essential demands of the university” in preparation to receive the university’s draft budget. She stated that SFU is going to be presenting the budget to the student societies in the coming months for feedback. Mohamed noted that if SFU “chooses to put out a draft budget that reflects even more tuition hikes during the pandemic, again, I think that that’s going to be a time for us to, you know, have some more action [and] continue with our campaign.”

The SFSS’s main priority is ensuring that students can afford their education. Mohamed noted they can work towards this by seeing “affordable tuition as a result of rollbacks of some of these increases.” The SFSS also wants post-secondary to receive more funding from the provincial government, which they believe is the minimum of their demands. Mohamed remarked that the SFSS doesn’t “want this to be a one time vote and for things to die down. [They] want students to see [ . . . ] you do have power and you do have a voice.” 

In response to the vote of condemnation, Driver and Pochurko released a statement to the SFSS explaining their decision to increase tuition citing that inflation and other economic factors are the main reason why the university’s expenses are rising. 

On this, Mohamed explained that raising tuition “is one of those issues that affects literally every single student.” For Mohamed, this is about students having “rights in the classroom with their instructors and we want students to be respected.” She also stated that the SFSS is disappointed with the university for forcing students to choose between attending SFU and “[worrying] about where their next meal is going to come from or how they’re going to pay their rent.

“I’m really hoping that more students are going to want to get involved with student movements that we have been working with and have endorsed, such as Tuition Freeze Now and the C19 Coalition.” According to Mohamed, “When you have a message that does come directly from the students [ . . . ] that is a lot of power and a lot of leverage.” 

SFU students can attend virtual budget information sessions, led by the university, on November 23 and 30 to learn more about SFU’s budget. 

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