Re: “What we talk about when we’re talking about entitlement” – September 12, 2012

The University of Manitoba student newspaper has a clear mandate as stated on your website “The newspaper’s primary mandate is to report fairly and objectively on issues and events of importance and interest to the students of the University of Manitoba.” If this holds true then I suggest you take a look at page 10 [of Sept. 12, 2012], titled as “Quebec protestors are no heroes: What we talk about when we’re talking about entitlement.” First off I think we should take a critical look at Jess Chapman when it comes to talking about entitlement, they write “I confess that [I] have not had my own struggles for education. My tuition, books, and fees were covered by a savings account my family set up for me as soon as I practically left the womb.” Talk about self proclaimed entitlement at its finest. They even go so far to say, “If any protestor interrupted my class to yell about neoliberalism or some such nonsense, I would go Katniss Everdeen on their whiny ass before they could say ‘drop fees.’”

The Manitoban is a student newspaper funded for in part by diverting $4 of dues from every student member of UMSU. The University of Manitoba Students Union Local 103 is a member of The Canadian Federation of Students, which has an active campaign on tuition fees, student debt, and student solidarity. Maybe Jess Chapman should do some preliminary research before bashing the student movement that UMSU is an engaged part of. For Jess Chapman it’s pretty easy to make such brash statements considering their parents set them up as they practically left the womb; but for many students in Canada they’re carrying huge amounts of debt. Today Canadians owe over $15 billion in student loan debt alone. It’s interesting to note, that annually the Federal government issues $2.4 billion in education tax credits and savings schemes. Restructuring these credits as upfront grants that would be non-repayable, the government would have a surplus of $200 million left over annually. For many students unlike Jess Chapman they carry their debt load for decades, Jess Chapman shouldn’t be so ignorant toward those that weren’t “set up” by their parents.

To touch on Jess Chapman’s statement, “to yell about neoliberalism or some such nonsense,” neoliberalism is no nonsense, it’s alive and well. Neoliberalism supports the privatization of nationalized industries, deregulation, and enhancing the role of the private sector in modern society. It’s these principals that lead to increases in tuition, reduction in accessible student housing, and increasing food prices. It’s what allows minimum wage in Manitoba to be $10.25/hour while living wage in Canada to currently be $13.33/hour. It’s neoliberalism that puts the satisfaction of social needs and human considerations secondary to those of profitability. It’s clear that this is why thousands of students across Canada and even those in Manitoba have taken part in such campaigns as ‘Drop Fees,’ ‘Education is a right,’ and is the fundamental reason why students in Quebec protested – not entitlement. Entitlement is what Jess Chapman proclaims in the second paragraph of the article they wrote.

It’s a shame that a student newspaper that gets funded through students in participation with UMSU would print material that has little or no research and is outright undignified.

Gabriel Bako,
Youth, Labour, and Social Justice Activist – Winnipeg

Letters to the Editor are printed in the Manitoban as we receive them, with minimal editing done for purposes of spelling, punctuation, etc.

3 Comments on "Re: “What we talk about when we’re talking about entitlement” – September 12, 2012"

  1. First of all, Gabriel, the newspaper’s mandate to report news objectively does not preclude their freedom to print opinion pieces. So I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll be stuck reading pieces that you disagree with.

    Second of all, I am not unaware of the fact that debt is a problem for many students. What I am unaware of is why it is strictly the responsibility of governments to fix this problem, specifically in the form of reducing the role of the private sector. Keep in mind that it is this very sector that helps students obtain employment and, subsequently, earnings that they can put toward paying for their education, before, during and after the schooling period. Governments elsewhere in the world that have attempted to provide public services to the extent that you seem to want now find themselves with debt loads considerably worse than ours and scantier job markets. Whatever alternative you have to neoliberalism has limits; it’s best to put as much space between yourself and those limits as possible.

    Third, your claim about a $200 million surplus as a result of restructuring all those tax credits as upfront grants. I would like to see the methodology used to create that number. I imagine it’s based on some very optimistic post-graduate employment projections.

    Fourth, I have always been consistent in my opposition to “the student movement” and its unions, and I would not object if students were no longer compelled to pay levies for the Manitoban. If they want it, they can pay for it out-of-pocket. The same goes for fruitless “Drop fees” rallies, also paid for by UMSU dues.

  2. Jess Chapman’s perspective of the matter is completely distorted. After reading many of your publications, Jess, one can quickly conclude you have little to no experience understanding the audience in which your looking to target. Your lack of reasoning and mediocre arguments will ultimately be the reason you fail to accomplish any sort of agreement among youth.

    You have yet to realize that one can not achieve an out of the box solution with such a close-minded approach. Platforms such as the Manitoban, are absolutely necessary to stir student involvement and drive progressive change.

  3. I’m not trying to accomplish an agreement among youth, Jerome. I’m stating my opinion, which some youth happen to side with and others don’t. The ratio of the latter to the former won’t change my mind.

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