UNB students are planning a “Tuition Hike Protest” sit-in outside of Tuesday’s meeting of the UNB Fredericton Senate to protest the proposed tuition fee reset that will charge differential program fees.
These differential program fees hit law students especially hard, and concerns over student debt and the transparency of the process have made students resist supporting the proposed changes.
The UNB Board of Governors will vote on the tuition reset proposal on April 19.
The proposed tuition changes suggest that arts and science students pay $7,096 per year; forestry and environmental management pay $7,434; education, computer science and kinesiology students pay $7,772; business/business administration, nursing, engineering and renaissance college students pay $8,110; and law students pay a little over $10,000 per year.
Both the Law Student Society and the UNBSU have voted against the reset and requested that the Board of Governors also vote against it. They also request that the university administration “return with an acceptable proposal,” according to the Tuition Hike Protest Facebook event page.
Nicole O'Byrne, a law professor and faculty representative on the UNB Board of Governors posted to the protest's Facebook event page, telling students what board members they should reach out to with their concerns.
"I welcome any feedback that you have on the tuition issue," O'Byrne said. "There are also three other elected faculty representatives who would be open to hearing your concerns—Dr. Norm Betts (Business), Dr. Jen Andrews (English) and Dr. Viqar Husain (Math)."
O'Byrne is also a member of the Fredericton Senate.
According to UNBSU president Herbert Bempah, members of the UNBSU executive and council will attend the Senate meeting on Tuesday.
“We very much understand that Senate does not have voting rights on this matter, but we are also fully aware that we have few avenues to make our voices loud and clear and we intend to utilize every single one of them to the best of our ability,” said Bempah.
In an email to UNB graduate students on Tuesday, the UNB Graduate Student Association expressed their support for the protest and encouraged grad students to take part.
"The UNB Graduate Student Association supports the UNB Student Union in the fight against the increase in tuition fees. The Graduate Student Association encourages all graduate students to support the undergraduate students and are encouraged to join in on the sit-down as a show of support and solidarity to our fellow students," the email said.
The sit-in will occur outside Tilley room 303 at 4 p.m. on Tuesday. Sign-making will be happening from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in Ludlow Hall.
“We are simply happy to see that students are coming together to fight for justice and fairness on our campus,” Bempah said. “Together, we are stronger.”
This story will be updated as events unfold.