Saskatoon

U of S students' union asks for tuition freeze, pass/fail options

The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union wants university administrators to protect students financially during the COVID-19 crisis and its fallout.

Open letter asks university administration to take measures to help students financially during crisis

Regan Ratt-Misponas, president of the University of Saskatchewan Students' Union, says he wants to ensure measures are taken to give students "some sort of relief." (Eric Anderson/CBC)

The University of Saskatchewan Students' Union wants university administrators to protect students financially during the COVID-19 crisis and its fallout.

The USSU released an open letter on Saturday outlining their requests, which include a freeze on tuition in 2020-21, extending tuition deadlines and waiving late payment fees for spring, summer and fall terms.

Regan Ratt-Misponas, president of the USSU, said he agrees with many of the measures the university has taken, including quickly moving classes online, but wants to see more long-term solutions from administration.

"We need to put up some measures to ensure that students weren't penalized or punished but that they were protected during this time," he said.

The USSU is requesting the university put the following measures in place:

  • No tuition increase for the 2020-21 academic year. 

  • Allow students to choose a pass/fail option. 

  • Reimburse students for forced withdrawals of classes they would have otherwise been able to complete before the closure of the university. 

  • Extend tuition deadlines for spring, summer and fall terms to account for financial hardships that students may face due to loss of employment opportunities. 

  • Waive late payment fees on tuition for spring, summer and fall terms. 

Ratt-Misponas said the USSU looked at what other universities in Canada were doing and based their suggestions off what they've seen.

The University of Regina announced students will be able to choose between two pass/fail options — Credit COVID-19 or No Credit COVID-19 — either of which will not impact their overall average and will preserve their academic standing. 

The U of S previously said grading would remain status quo, though the College of Law has implemented its own system for grading students for the remainder of the term.

We want to be sure students are considered when it comes to relief and the recovery.- Regan Ratt-Misponas, president of the USSU

Ratt-Misponas said he has been in conversation with university administration and he's been told tuition late payment fees will be waived for March and April, but the USSU would like to see that forgiveness extended for spring, summer and fall terms.

"A lot of debt may potentially be built because of this and we want to be sure students are considered when it comes to relief and the recovery," he said.

For students, summer job prospects have been severely diminished and Ratt-Misponas said many students have very little or no source of income right now. The open letter also notes that many students don't qualify for CERB or EI.

"It has been very heartbreaking to hear that students are facing issues in terms of not being able to make rent but still having to pay rent," Ratt-Misponas said.

"We're already in a vulnerable spot to begin with and because of the measures that have been taken because of this pandemic we're being placed further into a vulnerable position."

CBC asked the university to respond to the letter but a spokesperson wasn't available on Saturday. 

About the Author

Ashleigh Mattern is a web writer, reporter, and copy editor with CBC Saskatoon and CBC Saskatchewan, and an associate producer with Saskatoon Morning. She has been working as a journalist since 2007 and joined CBC in 2017. Email: ashleigh.mattern@cbc.ca.