Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Money Room

Deep within the bowels of the university, U of T has a special room. It's triple-locked and carefully guarded at all times. There is a dark and sinister corridor leading to this room; one whose floor is always slick and whose overhead lamps are always mysteriously swinging. It's deep underground, below the subways and the scurrying rats, and it holds all the money I've ever given to U of T.

Someday - mark my words - I'll find this room. I'll knock those guards out and emerge, triumphant, from this den of remuneration, carting my cash away and cackling as I go.

Seriously! Why is university so damned pricey? And it's not just the tuition, which my school has thoughtfully jacked up this year. It's the cost of living in an urban center. Yeah, yeah: I know Toronto is, like, way down there on the list of expensive places to live. It's not a surprise that Tokyo requires a bindle full of cash in order to subsist. But their international university is shockingly cheap - basically on par what I'm paying here. What makes U of T so special that I might as well open a vein every time I need to pay for a textbook?

Toronto ain't the Harvard of the North it claims to be: that distinction is fought over by Queen's and McGill, and rightfully so. U of T is more of a machine that either of those worthy schools. Toronto churns out thousands (like, the size of a small town) of undergrads per year, all the while charging more and more tuition and cutting and resizing programs. At what point does a university with a 1.2 billion dollar endowment need my sweet cash? Especially one with 3.1 billion dollars worth of real estate, including Queen's Park. As in, they own the provincial government buildings. What a crock.

Look, yeah, I know that I've spent a shit-ton of money over here on my so-called education, all the while desperately clawing my way towards irritatingly large student debt. And I'm not saying I would have rather gone to Algoma, which I'm sure is cheaper...because Algoma is in Sault Ste Marie, and I do not want to live in the Soo. It's just frustrating, because being in school is expensive, and it's usually an adventure taken on by poor young people.

As a poor young person, I will shut my trap about the whole thing, because, as sucky and expensive as school is, it's still a choice. I could have graduated high school (go Rams!) and gotten a job as a shopgirl, a waitress, a mother...a veritable buffet of high-paying and powerful jobs! But instead, I chose to wander the educational desert for forty years (practically), running up debt and researching exactly what my money is financing.

As far as I can tell, I personally am paying two month's salary for the girl who works at my registrar's office. Now, since I like her, I've decided not to be mad. But is I ever track down that mysterious room in that devilishly well-hidden corridor...I am bringing a wheelbarrow.


  1. Hey! Algoma is a lovely university! The quality of education here is awesomer than at big behemoth universities!! ...the only problem is that, you're right, Pho Hung has not yet franchised itself out to Sault Ste. Marie (I mean that in both the symbolic and the literal sense... sometimes I just want to eat pho that I haven't had to make myself).

    I should add that Deb was beginning to be quite offended that you don't want to come to Algoma, until I reminded her that you are in English. There are some programs you SHOULD want to come here for, but English ain't one of them. ;)

  2. Fair enough. And I truly have nothing against the far North, except when I read your LJ in May and you mention that there's still snow in the air.

  3. I have a feeling that this money room is down a scary hallway like the one leading to the bathroom at the Bike Chain. That hallway/bathroom area is just begging for murders. If that shower head weren't 6 inches off the ground there would be a cheerleader in there screaming with a creepy shadow in the background for sure.

  4. Oh, jeez louise. That is both correct and creepily precise.