One Woman Academy

December 1, 2009

Higher Education as a Universal Right

      Canada is pretty excellent. The Land of the Maple Leaf has Arcade Fire, Kate Beaton, universal healthcare, the world’s largest mall, and many other treasures. But while reading through Inside Higher Ed yesterday, I ran across this gem:


“The student union of the University of British Columbia has filed a complaint with the United Nations, seeking to have it declare that tuition increases in Canada violate the country’s commitment to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The complaint states that Canada and British Columbia are not attempting to comply with the covenant, a United Nations treaty. Among its provisions is the following statement about higher education: “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.” While the complaint has attracted considerable press attention in Canada, Maclean’s reported that some students are upset about the effort and are pushing for its reconsideration. It is unlikely that American students could try to file a similar complaint: While President Carter signed the covenant, the U.S. Senate never ratified the treaty.”


      Really University of British Columbia Student Union? Really? Your reaction to tuition increase is to MAKE A COMPLAINT TO THE UNITED NATIONS? Not to see if you can cut down on costs or try to fundraise or open up a lemonade stand? Aren’t they kind of busy with, I don’t know, DARFUR? HUMAN TRAFFICKING? I will be the first person to say that higher education should be made “equally accessible to all,” but seriously, this is some student union-caused drama unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ve seen some petty stuff in my time as a college student, but this is taking the cake. We’re all coming out of a recession! What do you expect, you crazy Canucks?! Isn’t this a rash course of action? At least some student opinion is pushing for reconsideration of the measure, otherwise I’d probably call this whole business a crazy Internet rumor.


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