The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Balancing our higher learning and low earning

By in Opinions
I've got to stop trading all my cash for random foreign currency!
I went into my first term of university in September of 2011 with over $5,000 in my savings account. This was a pretty healthy sum, I thought. Well, try telling that to my currently draining bank accounts.

Am I taking a student loan? Oh, hell no! Was I smart enough to win a scholarship for my tuition? Not as long as I’m an arts and science student.

So my only option is to pay tuition in cash. Currently I have enough money for the 2012 winter term, and a bit for the start of my second year, but either way, I am royally fucked right about now.

And tuition isn’t the only way the university sneaks its greedy little hands into my — and your — personal chequing and savings accounts. Besides almost having a heart attack when I handed over a $2,600 cheque to the school last September, I think I speak for all 18,000 or more University of Saskatchewan students when I say that not only is our tuition ridiculously expensive — I feel as if I’m learning the exact same crap I did last year in high school, except add on another $400 to the bill per class — but the price of our textbooks also seem to kick us in the ass.

When I hear of people taking education or engineering, I know that their annual tuition is much more than that of an arts and science student. Really, we’re all being gouged left, right and centre by ridiculous university costs, and by certain courses that we only take because we need them to graduate. We don’t even want to take them; we’re forced to!

Now, I’m a first year. What the hell do I know? I ask myself that all the time, but I know that three first-year anthropology and classical mythology books should not run $220 on my Visa. Later, when I sell them back to the university, I will only get a fraction of what I originally paid for the book. If a prof decides not to use those books next term, you once again get kicked in the ass. That’s why I am in drama — a $5 fee for photocopying and no textbooks.

And then there’s food. A $2.36 Tim Horton’s iced cap here, a $2.25 bottle of ginger ale there, a burger and fries from A&W, and the cash quickly gets yanked out of our wallets. I certainly don’t want to pay five dollars for a small tray of sushi but I have little choice. The university just expects that if I am hungry on campus and want a quick bite I must succumb to their overpriced crap.

When thousands of students are doing this day after day, for years on end, the profits for “campus confectionery” eventually add up, but not for the students.

Sure, paying for things like university infrastructure, public transit and even the Sheaf are understandable. After all, I don’t want my psychology lecture hall collapsing on me at 8:30 a.m. when I’m barely awake yet. But the rest of it sucks.

U of S, we’re not asking you to give us everything for free — although that would be unbelievably amazing — we’re just asking you to lower the day-to-day costs of campus life.

I’m going for a third job just so I can afford next year’s tuition.

That last thing I want to do is go into the world with a degree in my hand and tens of thousands of dollars in debt.


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