A few weeks go by and a 49-page report from Meal Exchange that took a detailed look at food insecurity on five Canadian university campuses is pretty much forgotten. Drag. Especially if you are one of those students, trying to advance yourself but scrambling for calories.
image: tom brindley via Flickr/CC
Within the vast net of financial scams and debt-based swindles that compose much of the source code underlying modern American life is an education-related indenture of $1.3 trillion. This generational thrashing is the stuff of revolutions, surely. Is there not a single history degree out there in the hands of the direly mortgaged young Americans? Education was supposed to be one of the things motorizing the new economy.
Stop paying your student loans and debt collectors can send US Marshalls to arrest you
Less-than-the-best housing is an up front tactical issue for students. A deferred, strategic issue, and probably the more socially worrisome of the two, is the enormous debt they can wind up carrying. Not a pretty trillion-dollar picture in America.
image: Ottawa area graffiti by Douglas Sprott via Flickr/CC
Ontario has yanked the license of a major private career college with fourteen campuses. Hard times for students left in the lurch but question marks have been hanging over these organizations for pretty much a generation now. The fast-growing career institutes parallel the not-for-profit, government-funded community college system yet charge much steeper tuition for their programs. The parent company of Everest has had some dubious moments in the United States, perhaps that triggered the province to look more closely. Everest was also responsible for one of the most brutal late-night infomercials in the long and malignant history of that loathsome media form.
Private-career colleges forcing students to take on more debt with lackluster results and poor job prospects
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations/Alliance Canadienne des associations etudiants
Food bank use by university students is the subject of this item from the University of Toronto publication The Varsity. Being a post secondary student isn’t cheap and there’s always been a low rent element in student life. But this recent data indicates a higher level of sacrifice and difficulty is now attached to getting further education than was the case in the past.
What’s not to love about a good infographic? We came across this one on imgur giving us a sense of the fiscal environment of young Canadians. If you start your working years anywhere from fifteen to thirty-five thousand dollars (or more) in debt will you be buying a lot of price-inflated real estate in Sherwood Park, or in Mississauga or in British Properties …or anywhere else?
Students usually form a portion of most communities when those communities reach a certain size and come to host insitutions of higher learning. Generally, this is all to the good. To be in any way a progressive and economically competitive society, education is advised. Part of that equation means keeping students, housed, fed, clothed and healthy while they study. We see friction developing out there on the perimeter where housing is concerned.
Last month in the Toronto Star there was a piece about a city raid in Scarborough on a rooming house near a University of Toronto satellite campus and a Centennial College campus. Inspectors entered a fairly ordinary-looking home designed for a single family and apparently found “…11 people …crammed together paying $500 to $700 per month each for spaces created by subdividing rooms at 1289 Military Trail.” (GTA section of the Star February 11, 2013)
This conversion is alleged to have been done without permits or inspections and without reasonable regard to the provision of fire exits, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors or proper heating and ventilation. The owner of the property mentioned above, at the time of inspection, was potentially liable for fines of up to $70,000. They, and other owners of ad hoc student residences seem reluctant to talk to the media. Perhaps they may see themselves merely as housing entrepreneurs responding to increased enrollments at nearby schools. On a bad day, however, they could be seen as slum landlords, taking advantage of a group who may find themselves in a weak position because of their status as students.
Many communities have come to cherish the “eds and meds” portion of the post-industrial economy. It seems that suburban communities in particular value the presence of colleges and universities for the good paycheques and prestige associated with them. Schools in turn may find a variety of incentives for expanding in ex-urban areas including cheaper land, physical space and a student-age population ready to study. Housing in the communities near satellite schools simply may not have adapted quickly enough to student housing needs for a variety of reasons and the schools themsleves may not have invested in their own, on-campus housing infrastructure. The results seen in the article below model what is happening all over North America in proximity to places of higher learning. Is it really a great idea to leave housing our future taxpayers, voters, citizens, entrepreneurs, professionals and tradespersons to the random, frequently sloppy efforts of unknown landlords?
No, of course not. This phenomena must be seen as part of a pattern of suburban-poverty.