Listen, I know a lot of things about a lot of things (the moon, living on the moon, the total weight of all moon rocks on Earth down to the last kilogram), and one of those things I know a lot of things about is revolution (as outlined in my many articles about revolution, and my forthcoming book, “Revolution: A Revolutionary History of Revolutions”). And boy is there a revolution a-taking place in Quebec right now. So I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with their revolution (and it’s not just their lack of V for Vendetta masks – which they shouldn’t be wearing anyway, if Blake Richards and I have anything to say about it).
For those of you who don’t follow the news (and trust me, I don’t blame you, the only reason I follow the news is because someone pays me to), or for those of you who don’t speak French (or don’t have a personal translator like I do), apparently a bunch of students in Quebec are pissed-off that going to university costs a lot of money now. And, as the French are wont to do, they’re revolutionizing the crap out of this thing (all my experience with French revolution comes from seeing Les Mis two-and-a-half times – but they revolutionize a lot in that thing), taking to the streets of Quebec, and yelling things in French (which in this case lacks the love their language is usually known for).
But, here’s the problem with this revolution: Universities have to cost a lot of money to attend. Now, I know what you think I’m going to say, which is that universities need to charge a lot because they need to pay for library books, supplies, buildings, etc. But you couldn’t be more wrong (I really wish you guys would stop interrupting me while I’m writing, you really only ever embarrass yourselves). Nope, the reason that universities need to charge their students ridiculously high prices is because they need to pay professors their obviously-reasonably-priced high salaries.
Again, I know what you’re thinking; universities need to pay their professors their obviously-reasonably-priced high salaries because, to attract qualified individuals, they need to offer them reasonable compensation (and benefits – like young college graduates who are willing to do anything for an A). Again, however, you are wrong (except about that young graduates thing, which you are sooooo right about). Most of the professors at universities are grossly under-qualified, if not still just students themselves. Nope, the reason universities need to pay their professors high salaries is because most of their professors have children who are nearing college age — and have you seen how much university costs nowadays? It’s already nearly impossible to send a kid to university on a university professor’s salary. Imagine what would happen if the Quebec students got their way and not only did tuition fees not go up but universities actually had to start cutting costs — like, say, all those obviously-reasonably-priced high salaries.
Nope, the only answer to the problem is for tuition fees to go up. I realize this will inevitably lead to university professors needing to be paid yet more, because the cost of sending their kids to school will go up yet again, in which case the universities will have to raise their tuition fees again. But that’s just the way the world works, and if you don’t like it, you’re a communist.
Or, apparently, French.
Nathaniel Moher is a television writer living in Vancouver. This column first appeared in The Flying Shingle.