Wondering what the SU is doing to ensure a safe, equitable return to classes in Fall 2020? We’ve compiled a list of our advocacy efforts here.
The Alberta Government is undertaking a system-wide review of the post-secondary sector. McKinsey & Co. has been hired by the Ministry of Advanced Education to run this review, and they are conducting a series of consultations between August-December to inform their recommendations. The SU is working closely with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and counterparts from other provincial student advocacy groups to coordinate students’ feedback for this review.
Advancing Students’ Priorities
The Students’ Union has prepared a submission outlining concerns that are both sector-wide and campus-specific. It was sent to McKinsey & Co. care of the Ministry of Advanced Education on September 15, 2020.
Concerned about how the 2019 and 2020 provincial budgets affect students at UCalgary? We’ve compiled some helpful information here.
Ongoing Institutional Advocacy
Campus Infrastructure and Deferred Maintenance Report
In the Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA) the Government of Alberta notes that one of the purposes of the post-secondary system is to enhance students’ “social, cultural and economic well-being.” However, the system cannot succeed at these goals while hampered by a continued lack of infrastructure investment at the University of Calgary and other campuses across Alberta.
On campus, the SU engages with university administration and campus stakeholders in a variety of ways to ensure the student voice is well-represented as decisions are made on issues that affect your education and university experience. Your elected officials hold seats on a number of university committees and groups including the University Board of Governors (BoG), the General Faculties Council (GFC) as well as committees from the Office of the Provost.
Along with these formal positions your SU President and SU Executive maintain relations and meet regularly with all UCalgary senior administration including the President , the Provost Office, the Registrar, and Student and Enrollment Services, to name a few.
In recent years issues the SU has addressed through its work with university administration include:
- Ensuring student rights and contributions to the MacEwan Building are permanently acknowledged through the Stakeholder Rights Agreement (SRA) and the Management and Use of Space Agreement (MUSA)
- Undertaking a consultation process for the proposed redevelopment of MacEwan Student Centre, to ensure the views, needs and interests of undergraduates are reflected in the plans calling for major changes to the building.
- Affordability of course and academic materials by advocating for the continued use of course packs and for a sensible approach to institutional copyright obligations.
- Ensuring that the views of undergraduate students were adequately represented in Eyes High, the university’s guiding vision and strategy:
- In the development of the draft strategic plan, your SU ensured that an appropriate focus on teaching excellence and a balance between teaching and research was reflected in the plan.
- Protecting students’ interests in the drafting of a new, university Non-Academic Misconduct Policy at General Faculties Council (GFC).
- Advancing student perspectives in updates to university strategic plans and policies, including the Campus Sexual Violence policy, the Campus Mental Health strategy, and more.
- Advocating for the affordability of your education. The SU has and continues to engage students annually on tuition and mandatory fee increases proposed by the institution, ensuring that students receive real value for cost increases.
- Advocating for the quality of student life to ensure that the university is committed to continually improving non-academic programs and services for students. Annual programs like Quality Money are key to engaging students in improving the campus environment.
Municipal, Provincial, and Federal Advocacy
Your elected officials also play an important role in advocating on behalf of UCalgary undergraduate students to the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.
Your President and VP External regularly meet with key government stakeholders including members of the City of Calgary Council, the provincial Ministry of Advanced Education, Ministry of Labour and Immigration, and other key MLAs, and federal members of Parliament.
Recent and current external advocacy activities by your SU include:
- With the passage of the Elections Accountability Amendment Act in the Alberta legislature in December 2012, successful advocacy efforts by your SU and CAUS have ensured that no student will be denied their right to vote on the basis of living away at school during future provincial elections.
- Alberta students living away from their home will now have the ability to decide to cast their ballot either in the community where they study or where they lived prior to going to school.
- Successfully advocating for the reduction of provincial barriers to student eligibility for financial aid including: the removal of parental income and RRSP contributions as a consideration for receiving Alberta Student Loans and an extension of the interest-free grace period to six months before loan repayments are required after students complete their studies.
- Executing a provincial Get Out The Vote strategy in April 2012 with a team of student volunteers, which included personal phone calls to over 5,000 U of C students.
- Your SU ensured that students had all the information they needed to vote, including an understanding of Alberta’s complex residency requirements for voting eligibility.
- Lobbying city council to change the restrictive Land Use Bylaw which limits the availability of legal secondary suites (basement apartments) in Calgary, with the goal of increasing access to safe affordable housing for students.
- In 2011, Calgary City Council adopted several zoning changes that will help to ensure more safe, affordable suites are available for students.
- Lobbying the federal government and convincing Parliamentarians to take action on improving the accessibility of the Canadian Student Loan Program (CSLP), expanding the Canada Student Grant Program to increase accessibility and reduce student debt loans and encouraging “Open Access” for federally funded research to address the affordability of academic materials.
If you have concerns about the affordability and accessibility of your postsecondary education, contact the SU’s VP External or drop in to the SU Office in the MacEwan Student Centre.
Assisting Undergrads in Advocating for Themselves
Your SU is here to help you succeed in your academic career. We also know from time to time you may encounter academic or non-academic issues that could negatively affect your success. The office of the Student Ombuds Office provides independent, impartial and confidential support for students who require assistance and advice in addressing issues related to their academic careers. Some of the reasons you may wish to visit them include:
- Being required to withdraw for poor grades
- Wishing to have an appraisal of your final grades
- If you are accused of academic misconduct involving cheating, copying, or plagiarism