The battle over tuition gets loud

Samantha Garvey, Roving Editor Ω

Arkells played to a crowd of 600 at Campus Commons on Sept. 8. – Photo by Samantha Garvey

Canadian rock band Arkells electrified a student-body crowd of 600 for the Tunes Against Tuition event on Saturday at TRU’s Campus Commons.

The Hamilton-based group was the fourth band in a lineup that filled the afternoon show. July Talk, Good for Grapes and Young Pacific were three other Canadian bands that warmed up the crowd.

Throughout the four-hour event, the noise level grew with the size of the crowd. By the time the headliners took to the stage, a pack of 600 dancing rock fans had formed at the foot of the stage.

Laced throughout the acts was Thompson Rivers University Students Union (TRUSU) president Dustin McIntyre with messages about the activities of the union and importance of voter registration.

Tunes against Tuition is an event unique to TRUSU. Its purpose is to create recognition of how tuition fees are a barrier to those seeking post-secondary education. Reducing tuition fees is the major goal of the Canadian Federation of Students, the umbrella body TRUSU belongs to. TRUSU lobbies all levels of government and for that reason, set up a table to register voters in the provincial election next spring.

Dylan Robinson, TRUSU’s vice-president external, said it’s important for students to inform provincial politicians that post-secondary issues should be a major focus. Other issues include high student unemployment rates and food bank use in educational institutions.

The key is mobilizing our members, said Robinson. If students are from out-of-province, they are eligible to vote if they’ve lived in B.C. for six months prior to the vote. The election date is May 14, 2013, meaning students joining TRU in September are eligible for the B.C. vote.

Arkells headlined TRUSU’s Tunes Against Tuition on Sept. 8. – Photo by Samantha Garvey

“It’s not a niche issue,” said Robinson. “It’s a community issue.”

Post-secondary issues are particularly relevant to the economy, said Robinson.

The funding for the show was passed in the last budget in May, when TRUSU began planning it shortly after.

“The Arkells were in the neighbourhood,” said Robinson about the success of the landing a big name as headliner.