Bishop's University lobbies Quebec for money

Posted 03.12.04

QUEBEC CITY | A busload of BU faculty, staff, and students presented a united front this week to the government while seeking more funding for higher education.

The Parliamentary Commission on accessibility and financing of universities at Quebec's National Assembly is hearing reports from various parties involved in the academic world.

Bishop's report was unique because it was presented by all groups at the school, including the students.

The commission, consisting of both Liberal and PQ members, appeared enthusiastic about the presentation.

"I think we were extremely well received by the commission," said Principal Janyne Hodder, "and we made an effective case on both major issues."

Items that the delegation addressed included having the ministry classify Bishop's as a small school in a region, and changing the way pension plans are evaluated.

"We piqued their interest on the pension issue - that may have been new to them. I don't think the pension issue was even on their radar before we spoke about it," said Hodder.

"it was an exciting experience to present to the parliamentary commission," said Student representative Chris Leveille. "I think that some of the people found us refreshing and with an interesting outlook."

"It seemed to impress the parliamentarians to see one single presentation from a university. That [the students] were able to work together with [the administration] to find something that we all agree on was very important to them."

Another issue addressed by the commission was Bishop's high level of student fees.

Bishop's stand stood in stark contrast to many student groups point of view, as many organizations have presented proposals to the commission attempting to set a cap on this cost for students.

"Our service fees are high in comparison to other universities, but are determined by our Committee on Life at the University, which has a large amount of student representation," said Principal Hodder. "What we provide to our students is nearly unequalled across the province."

The commission has been hearing briefs for two weeks, and will continue to convene until March 25. At that time recommendations will be made to the education minister.

"It's too soon to tell what the results are going to be, however we have a good feeling, said Hodder. "There's no doubt that having a student there and having the student body supporting our position was very helpful,".

"I think we were successful in making certain issues into [priorities]" commented Sam Elkas, former Liberal Industry Minister, and Bishop's corporation representative.

Committee chair Geoff Kelley mentioned that his uncle was W.B. Scott, the man that Bishop's arena is named after. Former PQ finance minister Pauline Marois summed it up by saying "I think we've been convinced that we all want to attend your beautiful little university."

Greg Dempsey is a senior at Bishop's University. He is editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Campus, and a staff member of The Local News, an on-line newspaper produced by the webjourjalism class.

Copyright © 2004 Greg Dempsey/Log Cabin Chronicles/03.04