This semester, students have left their classrooms and taken to the streets in opposition to the upcoming Quebec tuition hikes. The hikes have been part of our public discourse, but what’s rarely discussed is the the feminist nature of the fight for accessible education, as tuition hikes particularly affect women.
The past few decades have seen women make substantial progress in their university involvement. In 1971, women made up a mere 42 per cent of all university graduates, while, in 2006, 60 per cent of all university graduates were women. Changes like this could be reversed in Quebec if we allow the proposed tuition hike of $1,625 over five years.
Tuition hikes disproportionately affect women, given that women earn 71 cents of every dollar earned by men. Women who are attempting to pay their own way through university have a more difficult time doing so than men because of their lower average income. According to Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute, “A woman will earn $863,268 less than a man with the same diploma over the course of her lifetime.” Therefore, it’s also more difficult for them to pay back student debt post-graduation.
Additionally, this strain hurts single mothers attempting to finance their children’s education. According to a 2011 study, tuition fees made up 18 per cent of a single mother’s salary, whereas it made up 10 per cent of a two parent family’s income.
There is no need to aggravate existing inequalities by raising tuition – the hikes are completely unnecessary. If the Quebec government were to increase the top income bracket’s tax rate by 1.4 per cent and create a corporate capital gains tax of 2.4 per cent, the government could provide free post secondary education to all students.
The first Concordia student association to go on strike was the Women’s Studies Student Association. It is The Daily’s hope that more McGill student associations, including the Gender Sexual Diversity and Feminist Studies Student Association, will join the unlimited general student strike. Currently, the Social Work Student Association is the only McGill student association on unlimited strike.
If student groups do not actively work to prevent tuition hikes, women in Quebec and at McGill will be hit hard. It’s time for students to join the fight for accessible education and stop this sexist hike.