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Advocacy Blog – February 2021
February was a busy month for SU advocacy culminating with the release of the provincial budget towards the end of the month. Throughout February the SU met with university officials as well as provincial elected officials to advocate for students.
The SU is continuing its work towards a permanent Credit Received (CR) option for students. While the SU has had small advocacy wins with CR options for students in the fall and winter semester, the SU continues to drive towards a permanent CR option. This is relatively commonplace in Canadian universities and we remain committed to getting this over the finish line for the 2021 fall semester.
The SU is also working with UCalgary to support the SU Campus Food Bank. Students who have parking fines to pay may be able to put a portion of payment towards the SU Food Bank. More details to come on this!
Provincially, SU staff and executives worked with our CAUS counterparts from other institutions to protest post-secondary cuts and increased tuition. Students built 300 snow penguins at McDougall Centre since students cannot currently gather in a more traditional protest. The penguins carried signs highlighting stories that the SU and CAUS have heard directly from students. In these stories students highlighted challenges finding work, paying tuition, and supporting their family while going to school. The event was picked up by multiple major media outlets. Check out that story.
In addition, the SU President and VP External met with Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides ahead of the budget and received an update on the Alberta 2030 initiative. While details from the Minister were still scarce, the SU was relieved to learn that university governance will remain with the institution rather than go to a provincial superboard. President Frank Finley and VP External Marley Gillies also called on the Minister to implement some form of summer job program specifically targeted at post-secondary students. Last summer nearly one-third of UCalgary students surveyed were unable to find summer employment while another 12% had summer opportunities cancelled due to the pandemic.
Lastly, the SU responded to the provincial budget released on February 25. The asks the SU put forward to government were that student jobs program, a reversal or at least a stop to cuts, continuing funding for student mental health, and to re-implement the tuition tax credit. The UCP government did none of these things.
The cuts to UCalgary continue, there is no student job program, and, while the Minister says the mental health funding continued, he was unable to tell student leaders how much money was earmarked and for how long. You can read our news release here but as the release says “silver linings in the budget were non-existent.” The SU was again successful in speaking to media about the budget and its student impact. You can see some of those stories here.