Photo essay: students camp out and protest Dalhousie tuition increase

Despite student protest, Dalhousie University passes its second tuition increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 20, students rallied together to protest Dalhousie University’s proposed tuition increase. For five days leading up to the event, students camped out in front of the Henry Hicks Academic Building.

Students kick a soccer ball around tents pitched in front of the Henry Hicks Academic Building.

Students camped out from Friday, April 16 until Tuesday, April 20, the day of the Dalhousie Student Union’s (DSU) Reject the Fees rally and the Dalhousie Board of Governors’ (BOG) vote on tuition increases.

Hannah Surita Beaulieu, DSU VP Academic and External, sits down at the campsite.

Camping chairs, a hammock and tents filled a corner of Studley Quad, where students set up their base.

A poster in progress lays on the ground.

While camping, students painted signs in preparation for the rally.

DSU members (L-R) Madeleine Stinson, Mohab Brisha, Hannah Surita Beaulieu and Mazen Brisha speak with president Deep Saini in Studley Quad.

Many of the students camping belonged to the DSU. The day before the rally, Dalhousie University’s president Deep Saini stopped to speak with them.

Mazen Brisha (left), DSU VP Student Life, speaks with Mohab Brisha (right), VP Finance and Operations.

Dalhousie is increasing tuition by three per cent. This is their second increase during the COVID-19 pandemic. For international students, this rise is on top of a fee of $1473 CAD.

Two posters lay on the grass.

The DSU called for Dalhousie to remove all tuition increases in the 2021-2022 school year’s budget and to freeze international and domestic students’ tuition. 

Levi Clarkson (left), former King’s Student Union (KSU) president, speaks with DSU president Madeleine Stinson (right) before the rally.

Tuesday marked the last day of the campout. At 1:30 p.m., the Reject the Fees rally began.

Students gather to listen to speeches at the rally.

Socially-distanced and donning masks, students and community members rallied to protest Dalhousie’s proposed tuition increase before the BOG’s vote.

Student holds up a sign that reads “Freeze Tuition.”

“It was really nice, for the first time in a year and a half, to see students together in one physical place for a collective cause,” said DSU president Madeleine Stinson after the rally.

Several chalk messages line Studley Quad’s sidewalks.
Nova Scotia NDP leader Gary Burrill (right) speaks with former KSU president Levi Clarkson (centre).

“It is a gross inequity that is also tremendously insensitive,” said NDP leader Gary Burrill about the hike in tuition. “How insensitive could you be, in the midst of the COVID time, to bring in a three per cent increase?”

Aideen Reynolds, KSU VP External, addresses students.

Aideen Reynolds, KSU VP External, also spoke at the rally. 

“Your students, Dalhousie, are not a payday,” Reynolds said. “They are people.” 

“This is during the hardest year for students on record. This is an insult.”

Jad Ghiz, outgoing DSU VPSL, writes a chalk message on the sidewalk bordering the rally.

Jad Ghiz (pictured), outgoing DSU VP Student Life, led chants in between the speeches.

David Shuman, Editor-in-Chief of The Watch, interviews Erica Seelemann, DSU VP Academic and External, after the rally.

Another speaker was Erica Seelemann, DSU VP Academic and External. 

“University costs should not be on the backs of students,” Seelemann said. “…Dal needs us more than we need them. We have some of the highest fees in the country right now, and that’s not okay.”

DSU president Stinson wears a mask printed with “Do Good” on it.

DSU president Madeleine Stinson wrapped up the rally’s speeches. 

“Today is the day to determine what the real world is for Dalhousie,” she said. “This is their day to recognize that changes need to come.”

Stinson says the rally went “really well.”

“We had a lot of students out, there were faculty members, people who I assume are community,” she said.

DSU members (L-R) Mohab Brisha, Madeleine Stinson, Mazen Brisha, Hannah Surita Beaulieau and Truelee Love pose for a picture after the rally.

Immediately following the rally, the Dalhousie BOG met to vote on the proposed increase, which passed. 

The only members who voted against the rise were the three DSU BOG representatives, Fatima Beydoun, Aparna Mohan and Stinson.

“Regardless of what happens,” said Stinson before the board vote, “Reject the Fees campaign will continue. It may take a different form, it may take a different time. But our focus will always be on providing and advocating for accessible education for students.”

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