Faculty and staff of University of the Fraser Valley are putting union dues where their mouth is to help cut rising student debt.
The UFV Faculty & Staff Association (FSA) has launched the ’30 Drops Out of the Bucket,’ campaign to hand out 30 cheques of $1,000 each to current and former UFV students with the highest student debt loads.
“As staff and faculty we care deeply about our students,” said FSA President Sean Parkinson. “We see the effect that debt has on them.”
The FSA is paying for the contest pool of $30,000 with union dues from faculty and staff members, in collaboration with their provincial affiliate, the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE).
The 30 Drops contest deadline is April 6.
The FSA borrowed the idea from Okanagan College, knowing that a chance to win a thousand bucks is an attention-grabber, said Parkinson.
It’s really part of a broader question about paying for post-secondary education.
“As education is becoming more and more necessary, why is it becoming more and more expensive?” Parkinson asked. “It’s a question for Canadians to be answering.”
The 30 Drops campaign is “more political on a national level than it is partisan,” noted Parkinson, but the goal is to point out “the real-world effects” of the provincial government’s declining support of post-secondary education, which has resulted in hiked tuition fees and rising student debt.
The FSA is hoping it will generate some dinnertime discussion, since the average B.C. university grad has a debt load of $35,000 upon completion, and the system is underfunded.
The applicant with the highest debt load so far has $98,000 in debt.
Participation rates in post-secondary education in the Fraser Valley could always be higher, he noted.
“In the past getting a BA was a good entry point to a decent life.”
Now it’s the minimum needed to get a foot in the door.
“My regular job is in economics, so I see the effects on my students when they have to reduce their course load to three courses and work full time. They end up burning the candle at both ends.
“So paying tuition fees is very difficult, and for those who take on debt, when they finally graduate they still have a big anchor.”
The FSA posits “that the citizens of the Fraser Valley share our belief that a properly funded public post-secondary system ought to be a priority of any forward-thinking government,” in the news release.
“Through this contest, we are hoping to draw attention to this issue and to encourage the public to join us in our campaign to restore post-secondary funding by taking a minute to sign up at www.openthedoors.ca.
“We also urge British Columbians to contact their local MLA (https://www.leg.bc.ca/learn-about-us/members) and ask them to urge the Premier to restore funding to the post-secondary system.”
Current or former UFV students are eligible to enter the contest, as long as they have completed at least one course from any program at UFV since Sept. 1, 2005.
All applications must be received by fax, email, mail or in person, before 4 p.m. Thursday, April 6, 2017.
UFVFSA Contest: 30 Drops Out of the Bucket, Attn: Communications Committee, University of the Fraser Valley Faculty & Staff Association, Room B377 – 33844 King Road, Abbotsford, BC V2S 7M8
The application and rules are at: http://www.ufv-fsa.ca/fpse/30dropsoutofthebucket