Advocacy Blog: Call for an Independent Review, Housing, and More

Advocacy Blog: Call for an Independent Review, Housing, and More 150 150 admin

The past couple of months have been very busy for the SU advocacy team, working to support students on a variety of important issues. Read about our recent accomplishments and what we have been up to these past couple of months:

The SU has called for an independent review into the University administration’s handling of May 9th

The SU is calling for an independent review of the actions and decisions that led to multiple student injuries on May 9th at the University of Calgary, where a police response requested by President Ed McCauley and the University administration turned violent.

There is precedent within recent university history for these kinds of independent reviews, most recently in 2015 when then-president Elizabeth Cannon was alleged to have a conflict of interest that was investigated by former Justice Terrence McMahon.

The Students Legislative Council, which is the official governing body for the SU, called on the university’s board of governors to publicly initiate a review on May 28. Beyond the review, the Student Legislative Council also demands an explanation for why no students were involved with the crisis management team assembled to deal with the protest and a review of the policies and procedures the university was acting under.

Another win for Housing

After delivering more than 250 postcards to Ward 7 City Councillor Terry Wong and speaking at the public hearing about why the issue impacts students, the Rezoning for Housing motion was passed on May 14th by Calgary City Council. The passing of this motion will loosen zoning bylaws to allow more housing to be built and built faster. The zoning change was one of the recommendations in the housing strategy, which the SU advocacy team also advocated strongly for and was successfully passed in the fall.

SU Elected Officials have successfully delayed the university from eliminating a layer of protection in the academic appeal process

The University Appeals Office was looking to collapse its second layer of appeals, which provides an accountability measure and the ability to appeal the original decision due to procedural unfairness. SU elected officials expressed that this will not benefit students because if students choose to or require an appeal for their original appeal, they will need to go to the civil courts instead.

After long consultation, it has been agreed to maintain the two-level structure of appeals and do further consultation with the SU about the matter. The University Appeals Office has also committed to having consistent consultation with the SU in the future regarding the entire appeals system in general.

Housing Advocacy Continues!

Housing Advocacy Continues! 150 150 admin

Housing continues to be a hot topic, and the SU is ensuring that student voices continue to be heard as we approach a pivotal vote at City Council on April 22!

In September, students made their voices heard loud and clear joining hundreds of others rallying for housing affordability in front of City Hall. The energized group heard messages of support from Mayor Gondek, Councillor Walcott, and many inspiring individuals sharing the impact that the housing crisis is having on folks in Calgary. On September 16, our hard work paid off and the city’s proposed housing strategy was successfully passed in full, with additional amendments made to prioritize student housing.

NOW we are calling on the City Council to finish what they started and Vote “yes” to R-CG zoning on April 22.

What does this vote mean?

On April 22, City Council is voting to approve R-CG zoning city-wide. Passing this vote will mean putting an end to exclusionary zoning practices in Calgary. Students in Calgary continue to be pushed to the far corners of the city because of the lack of housing options. This needs to stop now.

Current zoning in Calgary creates a host of unnecessary barriers for folks looking to live near the University of Calgary or in other vibrant neighbourhoods. Approving R-CG zoning will help address this problem.

Find the City’s info sheet here to learn more about RC-G.

Want to make your voice heard?

Advocacy Blog: Affordable Housing and Tuition Consultation

Advocacy Blog: Affordable Housing and Tuition Consultation 150 150 admin

Housing Affordability

The SU advocacy team has been advocating to city council about the importance of supporting and implementing the housing affordability recommendations, which were brought to committee on September 14th. The SU advocacy team spoke with city councillors leading up to the vote about the impact that skyrocketing rental prices and extremely low vacancy rates have had on students, urging councillors to pass all the recommendations.

Students made their voices heard loud and clear at City Hall on September 14th, joining hundreds of others rallying for housing affordability. The energized group heard messages of support from Mayor Gondek, Councilor Wallcott, and many inspiring individuals sharing the impact that the housing crisis is having on folks in Calgary during the rally.

VP External, Mateusz Salmassi, and passionate students Isabella Rodriguez Pinedo, Michael Storozhakov, and Siraaj Shah spoke at the public hearing expressing that the strategy is essential for students and Calgarians alike. On September 16th the strategy was successfully passed in full with additional amendments which prioritize student housing and landlord licensing.

What exactly does this mean? Passing the ‘Home is Here’ housing strategy means many positive things for students and increased access to affordable and safe living accommodations. This includes 25 million dollars invested into post-secondary student housing, exploring landlord licensing, 3,000 new non-market homes and an additional 1,000 market homes per year, incentives for secondary suites, zoning changes, and many more positive strategies to address the housing crisis. Passing the strategy is an exciting step towards a more affordable future for all Calgarians. The SU advocacy team will continue to engage with councillors and all levels of government to ensure that these recommendations are effectively implemented.

The SU would like to extend a huge thank you to every person who helped to make the passing of the strategy possible. From students who wrote to their city councillor, helped volunteer, showed up at the rally, or spoke at the public hearing, we couldn’t have done it without you, thank you.

Tuition and Fee Consultation

This month marks the start of the tuition and fee consultation process with the university as they prepare their proposal for the next round of tuition and fee increases. Preliminary proposals for tuition and fee increases were made by the university sharing a 2% proposed increase to domestic tuition, a 10% proposed increase to international tuition, and a 2% increase to all mandatory fees.

As part of the consultation process elected officials and students were provided a chance to respond to the preliminary proposal during SLC on Tuesday, September 26th. The meeting is the first of many meetings which will serve as a chance for both students and SU elected officials to urge admin to take student feedback into consideration. SU president, Shaziah Jinnah Morsette, and VP External, Mateusz Salmassi presented to admin during the September 26th meeting specifically sharing the SU’s expectations and asks regarding the proposal.

So, what are our asks? The SU calls for administration to align international tuition increases with domestic tuition increases. All students are facing significant affordability challenges and disproportionately penalizing international students is something the SU will not stand behind! Additionally, the SU urges administration to increase investment in international student services to better support international students. The SU also calls for a freeze on all fees until there is increased transparency about where money is going and the quality of services that they promise to provide has increased. Students should get good quality services in return for their fees, and this is currently not the case.

Consultations will continue throughout the coming weeks. On October 11th, the university will hold a Student Community Discussion in MacEwan Ballroom. On October 31st, administration will attend a second SLC meeting. Student engagement is essential to make sure that the future proposal reflects what students want.

A Win for Haskayne Student Representatives

The SU is also extremely proud to announce that faculty representatives have secured a voting seat on the Haskayne Faculty Council. Student representatives have not had a vote on the council since 2015 and have worked extremely hard to make sure that students have been afforded a seat at the table.

Advocacy Blog: Updates From Summer 2023

Advocacy Blog: Updates From Summer 2023 150 150 admin

The SU executives have been busy over the summer, transitioning into their roles, working to have student issues heard in the media, and preparing for the fall semester. Cultivating strong relationships at all levels of government has been a key priority for the elected SU executives. Over the summer SU executives have had the opportunity to meet with the UCP Minister of Advanced Education, Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism, and many elected NDP MLAs. Read all about what we accomplished this summer, as well as what we are still working on!

Affordable housing solutions cannot wait

For the second consecutive year, UCalgary on-campus residences are completely full, leaving many students scrambling for alternatives. Vacancy rates in Calgary are the lowest in nearly a decade, and prices have increased rapidly. Many students are struggling to find affordable housing near the university and are being forced to live far from campus, often in areas poorly served by transit.

The SU is here to help fight back. To provide assistance immediately, we put a call to action out for all Calgarians with a spare room or rental to consider renting to a student and posting it on the SU’s housing partner’s website at Calgarians showed up for students and played a key role in helping many students find a safe place to live. Anyone with a place to rent can continue to post listings on the SU’s housing partner’s website at The immense support from Calgarians coming together to support students when they need it most has been heartwarming, but the need to support folks being impacted by the housing crisis doesn’t stop there.

Looking at the bigger picture, the SU is advocating to the city council the importance of supporting and implementing the housing affordability recommendations, which will be brought to committee on September 14th. The recommendations are essential for students and Calgarians alike, to address the housing challenges that folks are currently facing. The SU advocacy team will be speaking to city councillors before this meeting to express the need to pass all 33 housing recommendations and the significant impact that the housing crisis is having on students. Join the SU at City Hall on September 14th to stand in support of the housing recommendations!

Taking a big STEP forward

Did you have trouble finding a summer job between the school years? You weren’t alone. This summer, youth unemployment was double the provincial average, pushing many students further into debt and unable to make ends meet. With increased tuition and cost of living, many students need full-time work in the summer to support themselves and afford tuition.

The Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) helped students find meaningful work over the summer, but that program was cancelled in 2019 and has not been replaced since. This summer, we met with multiple government officials expressing the importance of reimplementing a temporary jobs program that supports students and helps connect them to employers. This work will continue throughout the year in hopes of providing students with more options to gain temporary employment opportunities next summer.

Making progress here on campus

A big win that is just in time for the fall semester is that your term breaks will now be actual breaks. The university has recognized that term break is a time for students to prioritize their mental health and well-being, free of academic assessments. Even though the 2018-19 calendar recognized that term breaks were critical aspects of student well-being and mental health, we heard from many of you that it didn’t feel like a break with so many assignments still due in your courses. Our SU President Shaziah Jinnah Morsette started the fight to make sure that student mental health was made a priority during her term as VP Academic last year and has seen that fight through this year. We are overjoyed to have the university commit to respecting students’ need for time to rest and take care of their well-being ahead of this fall semester. Relevant policy changes to ensure that their statement can be enforced will be worked on by the University this governance year. Term breaks this academic year will be held during the fall and winter semesters from November 12-18th and February 18 –24th, respectively. Read the full statement from the University on the Term Break Resources website here for more details.

Tuition prices remain a major issue for students, and it is important to have your voice heard. The SU is working with the university to finalize a tuition and fee consultation guide. This is especially important to ensure that student consultation is consistent and meaningful throughout discussions regarding tuition and fee increases. The SU continues to advocate on behalf of students in these discussions and determining how best to foster ongoing communications between the university, the student body, and the Students’ Union.

In 2020 the university paused the use of Academic Regulation relating to Supporting Documentation and Statutory Declaration (M.1), announcing plans this past June to reinstate this policy. The SU fought heavily for the university to pause the reinstatement of the regulation before having thorough student consultation because this policy does not work for students, but the university moved forward with reinstating the policy anyway. However, because of continued advocacy, the SU has received a commitment from the university to work together on a holistic review of regulations around absences due to illness for assessments.

Demand at the SU Campus Food Bank keeps increasing as student costs skyrocket. The SU Campus Food Bank has been actively supporting the campus community for over 30 years and worked tirelessly over the summer to continue to support folks. To expand the SU Food Bank capacity, the SU hired a third food bank coordinator to help support outreach and awareness efforts, food literacy education, and food hamper preparations. To donate or access resources from the SU Campus Food Bank visit here.

If that wasn’t enough for you, we also have two meaningful wins to benefit students coming back to school! First is that walk-ins at the wellness centre are back for students. The SU has been working with the SU Wellness Centre to bring walk-in appointments back to better support students. Second, club funding has also been streamlined, meaning it’s now easier for clubs to access funds for events and activities. Learn more about Clubs here.

SU executives extending advocacy efforts

Finally, the executives have extended their advocacy efforts at municipal and federal levels through collaboration with other post-secondaries. Vice President External Mateusz Salmassi was elected the Director of Advocacy for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Through this role, he elevates the advocacy work the SU does by collaborating with other student associations across Canada to fight for student needs federally. The hot button issues this summer have been housing and student affordability, as mentioned earlier in our blog.

SU President Shaziah Jinnah Morsette was elected as chair of the Calgary Student Alliance (CSA) at the beginning of her term, representing 120,000 postsecondary students on municipal issues in Calgary. This role allows her to amplify the voices of postsecondary students in Calgary, by collaborating towards common goals and bringing attention to the challenges students in Calgary are currently facing. Significant efforts from Shaziah and the CSA have been focused on housing and the upcoming city committee meeting on September 14th. The work that she has undertaken to strengthen the relationships among postsecondary institutions in Calgary has been vital to further the SU’s advocacy reach.

Advocacy Update – September 2021

Advocacy Update – September 2021 150 150 Michael Brown

There was a lot going on in September. It was great to welcome students back to campus and the SU was busy advocating for you and making sure everyone was safe as classes resumed.

First, the SU is continuing its advocacy with regard to the last-minute course changes imposed by the university and resulting steep financial costs students unnecessarily incurred as a result. The university moved hundreds of courses online at the discretion of instructors in late August and early September. We heard from hundreds of students who had most or all of their classes move online suddenly. The SU was not consulted on this decision at all.

Many affected students incurred travel, accommodation, or parking costs under the assumption that the university would honour the course delivery type students registered for. We have heard from international students who have spent up to $5,000 to be here and domestic students who have spent around $3,000. Now they get to learn from a laptop.

Unfortunately, the university hasn’t stepped up to fix the problem they created. The bursary they announced covered only $500 or $1000 of costs and only included a fraction of students who had their courses changed. The university has refused to meet with the SU on this topic and we are continuing to demand a meeting. Our demand is that the university fully reimburse travel and accommodation expenses for students for course changes announced to after the August 20th deadline. We will keep you up to date as this progresses.

Next, the SU won a delay to the university’s Exceptional Tuition Increases in Medicine and Engineering. The university was asked to consult with students again since they only consulted after classes had finished for the summer. The consultations are better this time but it remains unclear how student feedback has changed the proposed increases. The tuition increases will go to the Board of Governors on October 22.

The SU hosted a Mayoral candidates forum on September 23rd and it was quite the event. CBC News host Rob Brown moderated the nine invited candidates who discussed issues like campus voting, transit, downtown revitalization and more. If you haven’t decided who to vote for yet, you can listen to the debate on the SU website.

A Guide to Great Study Spots around the UCalgary Campus

A Guide to Great Study Spots around the UCalgary Campus 1300 500 Gene Baines

By: Rafael Sanguinetti

This Fall, both first-year and second-year students will be joining their first-year counterparts in experiencing the act of physically attending classes for the first time in their post-secondary careers. Adjusting to this new environment is no simple feat; the University’s Main Campus alone spans over 200 hectares which, according to the institution, is bigger than Calgary’s own downtown.

With such a huge space, along with the University’s four additional campuses, finding a good place to study can be a difficult, and often daunting, task. Fortunately, this guide, while not exhaustive, is here to provide some well-known study locations throughout the facility that can be used while waiting in between classes or cramming before a major exam.

The Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL)

TFDL is arguably the University’s main library, and it sits right at the centre of the Main Campus location, making TFDL an ideal study location for students that want to be relatively close to any of the buildings on the campus. The library has six floors: the bottom three floors are usually quite busy and are often used by students working in group assignments or meeting with friends in between classes, while the top three floors are dedicated exclusively to students who prefer to study in a quiet (and we mean quiet) environment. Overall, TFDL is the go-to place to study for anyone on Main Campus; however, there are other great spots for when this library is too busy or too far from your next class.

Bennett Jones Law Library

The Law Library is a great spot for students who prefer a more traditional library vibe over TFDL’s more modern environment. Located in Murray Fraser Hall by the south side of the campus, the Law Library is also convenient for students with classes near Craigie Hall, Professional Faculties, or the Education buildings. While popular among law students, all undergraduate students are welcome to use the library for their own studying needs.

Energy Environment Experiential Learning (EEEL)

For students with classes on the north side of the campus, including the Engineering building, ICT, Environmental Sciences, and Mathematical Sciences; EEEL can be a great study spot. EEEL is home to many of the University’s science laboratories, where students conduct experiments for their physics, chemistry, and biology classes, among others. Expect to see a lot of students sporting white lab coats!

The Atrium – Administration Building

The Administration Building is home to one of the most unique—and most popular—study spaces on the campus: the Atrium. This greenhouse-style space is great for students who either want to relax or study in a lively environment. This spot is particularly liked during the winter as it can get quite hot and humid! The Atrium is located on the east side of the campus, which is near Professional Faculties, Social Sciences, Science Theatres, Science A, and the University’s LRT station.

Kinesiology Buildings

Located on the Campus’s west side, the Kinesiology Buildings have several convenient areas for studying uses. Most notably, the atrium in Kinesiology Building B is a popular spot. The Kinesiology Buildings contain many of the University’s athletic facilities, including the Fitness Centre, the Jack Simpson Gym, and the Outdoor Centre, and the Aquatics Centre, among others. The Kinesiology Buildings are also connected to the Olympic Oval, MacEwan Student Centre, and Hotel Alma.

Health Sciences Library and Feasby Lounge – Foothills Campus

Finally, even for students who spend lots of time at the Foothills Campus, there are two excellent study spots at the Cumming School of Medicine! Firstly, the Health Sciences Library, like TFDL, is a general and popular go-to spot for students. Containing several work desks, group spaces, and quiet areas, the Health Sciences Library is perfect for loud group projects or focused studying. Secondly, the Feasby Lounge is a great place for students to socialize, study, or eat. The Lounge contains several desks for work, as well as table games like ping-pong, foosball, and pool for leisure breaks while studying.

There you have it, a list of six study spots to check out in the upcoming semester. Because this list is not comprehensive, there are several more study spots around the University that may be more convenient for different styles of studying. In fact, the Students’ Union has also compiled a map of several student-approved study spaces, which can be accessed on our website. As students explore the campus grounds starting in Fall 2021, making note of potential study spaces is strongly encouraged. Asking senior students about their preferred study spots may also be helpful.

As always, the Students’ Union Representatives are happy to address any further questions or concerns. Good luck in the upcoming school year and happy studying!

Advocacy Blog – February 2021

Advocacy Blog – February 2021 150 150 Michael Brown

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.

Advocacy Blog – January 2021

Advocacy Blog – January 2021 1400 450 admin

As classes started for the winter semester in January, the SU was busy continuing its advocacy efforts to all three orders of government and university administration. 2020 presented new and unique challenges for student and academic life. 2021 appears as though it will be no different.

The SU always wants to hear from students about your ideas on advocacy and what you need to navigate your studies during the pandemic. Please reach out to the SU if you have ideas or need support.

At the university level, the SU continues to advocate on tuition, fees, and student costs. The SU successfully advocated for a ‘Credit Received’ or CR option for students who may have a course where they would prefer not to have a letter grade in the fall semester, and were able to secure the same option for early in the winter semester. Students who receive a C- or better may convert that grade to a CR which wouldn’t count towards their GPA. We are currently working on having the university offer this option permanently – we expect this change to be announced by the end of this semester. In addition, the SU has successfully made sure that online exam proctoring will not be used by the university. However, individual professors may still be using this software; if that’s the case please contact the SU.

The SU continued its government advocacy by meeting with several elected officials individually to bring student concerns forward. This included an introductory meeting with Calgary MP Jasraj Hallan who met with the SU to discuss student mental health and student jobs and internships.

The SU met with Minister Copping who is the provincial Minister of Labour and Immigration. Minister Copping also represents the University of Calgary and surrounding area in the Legislature. The SU advocated for a student summer job program to help UCalgary students find work over the summer months. Last summer near one-third of UCalgary students surveyed said they couldn’t find a job at all or had a position cancelled due to the pandemic. The SU is working hard to ensure more opportunities for student work this summer.

The SU also supported awareness efforts on the cuts to post-secondary education from the provincial government and subsequent increases to tuition. Through the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), our colleagues in Edmonton created a snow penguin army of 800 penguins carrying signs asking the government to freeze the cuts.

SU VP External Marley Gillies also participated in a drive by protest outside the Advanced Education Minister’s Calgary office. The event raised awareness of and called for an end to the severe funding cuts by the province.

Early in January, the SU also held its annual Calgary Leaders Dinner. This year’s event was reimagined as the Calgary Leaders Dialogue since it couldn’t be held in-person as usual. SU Executives and SLC members spent time talking to Calgary elected officials from the three orders of government. In total, 18 elected officials attended and Councillor Druh Farrell acted as keynote speaker. The elected officials discussed student issues such as tuition, mental health, and transit while also providing tips to student leaders on how best to advocate and build solid relationships with governments.

If you have questions or concerns about these initiatives or have ideas on what the SU should pursue on behalf of students, again, please contact us.

[button link=”/contact”]Contact Us![/button]