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Advocacy Update – March 2021
The SU continued its advocacy efforts at the university level and provincially throughout March. In March the Minister of Advanced Education put out a statement expecting post-secondary institutions to return to in-person classes for September. This was unexpected and came with few details. The province did not outline how it expected institutions to do this nor did they provide any funding to support UCalgary and other institutions to cover additional costs associated with re-entry, such as cleaning. The SU put out a statement and spoke to media about the need for a detailed plan from the Minister or from Alberta Health. You can read that statement here.
More recently, the SU learned that the university was in discussions with Follett to privatize the campus bookstore. The SU firmly believes that this would be a bad move for students. Follett has a history of increasing textbook prices and restricting student choice on where to buy textbooks. The SU is disappointed that the university has chosen not to consult with students over any potential change to bookstore operations.
Since the bookstore story broke, the SU has requested a meeting with the senior university officials involved in the privatization discussion. Those requests have been declined with the university only agreeing to meet after a decision on the path forward has been finalized.
This is not acceptable. The SU feels strongly that student concerns and voices should inform that path forward and not be excluded from the decision-making process. In addition, if the university feels they cannot sustainably run the bookstore then the SU is interested in entering into discussions with the university to operate the bookstore on a cost-recovery model.
The SU met with City Councillor Jeff Davison on what the City can do to keep students and young people in Calgary. Many young people are looking to leave the city and the province given the poor job climate combined with annual deep cuts to post-secondary education on the part of the provincial government.
The SU advocacy team also met with MLA Rachel Notley and NDP Advanced Education Critic David Eggen to discuss the fallout of the provincial budget and other student issues.
Later in March, the SU VP External, Marley Gillies, attended the virtual AGM of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). CASA is the federal student advocacy group and supports student associations when it comes to advocating to the federal government on student issues. Discussion centred around the federal budget coming out next week as well as plans for GOTV in case of a federal election later this year.
The SU has continued its institutional advocacy on issues around the USRI and a permanent credit received option. A new Provost has been hired to replace Dru Marshall and we look forward to building a new relationship with the new Provost and continue our work on these issues.