By Anne Finlay-Stewart
It takes a lot of money to provide a quality post-secondary education, and in Ontario students are bearing more of that cost than ever before. Yet the Students' Administrative Councils of Georgian College's Owen Sound, Barrie and Orillia campuses have committed to the largest single donation the college has ever received. The students will contribute $7.2 million over the next ten years to the college's Power of Education campaign to "help transform the student experience". The money will fund a unique on-line portal that will essentially provide students access to services at all seven Georgian campuses 24/7, as well as specific projects at each of the three main campuses. In Barrie, part of the money will be spent on a sports field to replace one ripped up in the process of adding a building, adding "value to the college and community", according to the Georgian news release.
Which begs the question – isn't this what taxes are for?
When many of the parents of this year's Georgian College students were attending colleges and universities, the provincial government was footing about 80 percent of the bill. Between tuition and additional fees, students are now bearing fully half the cost. "The per student grant is exactly what it was in 1998," said Bill Van Wyck, past chair of Georgian's Board of Governors. While he is proud of the $60 million the Power of Education campaign has raised in the community, he is concerned that the government's contribution has diminished to only 43% of the college's gross income and the impact that has on students and their resources.
Jenna Stevenson, president of the Students' Administrative Council (SAC) at Georgian's Owen Sound campus, spoke of the legacy of an expanded fitness centre and technological improvements to the students' common spaces that this donation would provide. In addition to tuition and current ancillary fees, the commitment will add a new levy of $28.15 per student per semester on each of the seven campuses for the next ten years.
The incoming president of the SAC, Nicole Woods, was holding up a sign with one of the five zeroes as the amount of the donation was announced. She learned of the substantial financial commitment at same time the announcement was made publicly. A marine navigation student completing her first year, Woods was acclaimed to her position this spring. She is working to learn the needs and wants of the diverse student population. Each program, Woods senses, tends to builds its own internal community and that makes creating a broader Georgian experience more of a challenge. Resources like the fitness centre and enhanced public spaces could be part of that.
Georgian College students in Owen Sound are having a magnificent week. Besides their financial commitment, they solved a murder and advanced to hockey finals.
The Police Foundations students tied for first place with their peers from Fleming College in a first-ever intercollegiate Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) challenge last Saturday, investigating and analyzing a mock crime devised by professionals in the field.
The Georgian Grizzlies hockey team will be heading for Cornwall this Thursday to take their place among the top twelve college teams for the year-end tournament.
Learn more about Georgian College's Owen Sound campus at their Open House on March 28 from 9 until 2.