"A group of about a dozen of us students have been independently putting together a nice long letter, which includes some background on the increase, points on why students/members of the public disagree with it, and potential actionable steps students may be willing to take. We really want to make this letter really easy for everyone to support and sign, so we wanted to ensure we had the full, broad range of reasons why people were opposed to the tuition increases. We’re pretty sure we have most of it done now, but want to ensure that we aren’t missing any reasons people are upset about this.
I also wanted to give as transparent as possible an explanation on what progress we have made so far. I got a chance to speak to Dean Billingsley after class on Tuesday (before her follow-up letter came out) and hammered a bunch of the stuff I saw from Facebook/social media. She pretty much gave the same reply as she did in the email: 1. This is being rushed forward because of a short window of opportunity from the provincial government, 2. They are going to increase bursaries in an attempt to save face, and 3. They didn’t intend on the email sounding as “divide and conquer”. What she did not mention in the email, but said in class was: 1. that this increase was also a result of a handful of profs retiring and no financial planning for their replacements, 2. Fearful they won’t get a chance like this for a while again, they want to increase the tuition really high to “future-proof” it, and 3. Students are free to protest/call media/etc. against the increases. Our group has also been advocating to professors to speak up against this increase.
I also got to question the President of the Law Society of Alberta on this, luckily she was speaking in another class of mine. We were talking about the responsibilities and scope of the Law Society of Alberta, specifically regarding their job of protecting the public interest and their strategic plan that includes equity diversity, inclusion, and she was shocked by the increase and said she had no idea. She also said that although the law society does potentially speak up for the public interest, this was not on their radar. But she did mention she is meeting with the Dean to speak about other diversity things in a few weeks, so hopefully based on our pressure she at least mentions it. It is also good to know that now the law society knows about this increase, at least at the president level (not sure about at the committee level though, where actionable change can actually take place). Hopefully more external organizations pick up on this and also start contributing to the fight.
Our group of students can also confirm that the Edmonton Journal is taking on this story! So that is great news. Not sure when that will be coming out, or who exactly they are speaking to, but this is undoubtedly increasing the pressure for our Dean. Also, other lawyers and alumni have been reached out as well, and many are already showing their opposition against the tuition increase/support for our group letter, and we are pretty sure at least one will also be speaking to the media about this.
I know this is A LOT of reading— but after hearing from a ton of students about their concerns on lack of transparency and apparent action on this, we wanted to fill you all in that we are working hard to get the message out aggressively. I hope all this info helps with reducing anxiety and stress; know that we are fighting this. We do not need to oppose these increases forever, this is just a short window of opportunity they are rushing to meet, if we can disrupt beyond the deadline or get meaningful concessions, we win. Please share as needed for the classmates not on Facebook."