LAST YEAR THE Fulcrum examined whether part-time students are given the cold shoulder. I didn’t care for the subject at the time—I was a full-time student who got all the associated benefits and wasn’t interested in what I thought were “first-world problems.” I was naive.
The fact is, part-time students are trampled on by every organization. Want a U-Pass? Go full time. Want insurance? Go full time. Want to get student perks to cut cost of living? You guessed it, go full time.
But most part-time students don’t take fewer classes because they’re lazy, and certainly not because they like paying more per class—that would be masochistic. Part-time students are parents who need to take care of their kids, students who can’t afford to cut hours at work, or students who are in generally difficult or extraordinary life situations. In short, they are the ones who need help the most.
But no one is helping them. This year, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa had to go back to bargaining with the City of Ottawa over the U-Pass program. The result was a price increase without any added benefits, such as allowing part-time students to opt in, for the next five years.
The cost of tuition isn’t any different. The newly elected McGuinty government announced a 30 per cent tuition rebate, which doesn’t apply to students who pay the most for education because they have to pay for individual courses—part-timers. They also don’t qualify for OSAP or entrance scholarships.
There are a lot of groups that advocate for student interests, but few of them work at getting part-time students the same benefits full-timers have. The bottom line is, we are all students. We are all trying to get a good education and work toward a successful career. We need to stand together and demand better for every student, not just the full-time ones.