Mount Allison students protest rebate rejection
Students protest at university campus in bid to be compensated for class time lost during strike
Mount Allison University students gathered in front of the campus library on Friday morning to protest the administration's decision to not give them a tuition rebate.
About 35 students chanted, "We want an education, we don't want no corporation," and carried signs with slogans, such as "Fair Tuition."
Student leaders have been lobbying for students to be financially compensated for class time lost during the three-week faculty strike that started on Jan. 27.
They are seeking a minimum of $300 each.
"Guess what, I didn't come here just for credits, I cam here for an education. I think we all did," student Alex Thomas said during a speech.
The students marched through the campus, humming as they passed through the administration building, and on to the students' centre.
Earlier this week, the university administration rejected the idea of a rebate, saying the labour disruption did not change the end goals of the university and that tuition fees are not set according to the number of hours, but rather the course being delivered.
A refund would only be applicable if a course or term was cancelled, the administration had said in a statement.
In addition, any rebate would hurt future students — either through increased fees or diminished services, the statement said.
But the students say the condensed semester is affecting their grades and is stressful.
"We're just not basically learning all the material that we would be learning otherwise," said student Amanda Cormier. "So, and in terms of my grades, and my peers' grades, it's not like a drastic change, but As could be lowered to Bs. The stress is affecting test scores," she said.
Final decision up to board of regents
The final decision on whether to issue a rebate rests with the university's board of regents, which is expected to meet in May.
Meanwhile, students at the Sackville university are continuing their fight, hoping to convince the board of regents to reject the administration's recommendation.
They plan to protest again next Friday — and every Friday until the end of classes, or until they get a refund.
More than 600 of them have also signed a petition saying they will not donate money to the university in the future as alumni if a rebate is denied.
The Mount Allison Students' Union has said the university saved $856,948 in unpaid salaries over the course of the strike and believes that money should be used to compensate students, as the University of New Brunswick did.
But the administration contends the final costs are unknown because several financial issues still have to be settled through binding arbitration.
University of New Brunswick students received financial credit from the university in recognition of the "hardships and inconvenience" caused by the three-week faculty strike in January.
The money came from the net savings the university realized during the labour dispute, which was settled on Jan. 30.
Full-time students were expected to receive a lump sum credit on their account of more than $200, while part-time students were to receive a lesser amount.