Summer Advocacy Update

Summer Advocacy Update 150 150 Michael Brown

As campus gears back up to welcome back students for the fall, the SU was busy over the summer months advocating to all three orders of government and the university on a variety of issues. Here’s your summer update.

Provincial Government

The SU met with Health Minister Jason Copping, who also represents the university and surrounding communities in the legislature. The SU discussed tuition and the need for a student jobs program with the Minister. Students have been without a jobs program since the cancellation of the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) in 2019. Neither of the jobs programs announced by the UCP government include students. In summer of 2021, one in four students looking for full-time work was unable to find it.

The SU met with several members of the Official Opposition caucus on the jobs issue as well. The SU was able to secure a commitment that the Opposition would bring back STEP to help students find summer work with four times the budget from the cancelled program. The Opposition expects it will help create 12,000 summer student employment opportunities.

Throughout the summer, the SU conducted research on a number of provincial policy asks with the intention to advocate to Alberta’s major political parties to include these policies in their platforms ahead of the next provincial election anticipated for May 2023. The annual SU advocacy survey is currently out and receiving student feedback on these issues. The SU plans to ramp up its efforts through the fall and winter in an attempt to push student issues to the forefront of the upcoming election campaign.

Federal Government

The SU’s advocacy team travelled to Ottawa to begin setting federal advocacy priorities through the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). The SU hosted CASA delegates in Calgary in August to finalize priorities ahead of CASA’s annual advocacy week in November.

The SU also met with the NDPs critic for advanced education to discuss federal priorities around jobs, student financial aid, and mental health.

Municipal Government

The SU held an advocacy day at Calgary City Hall and met with four Councillors or their staff. Discussions primarily centred around the housing crunch in Calgary, transit safety, and the UPass program. The SU secured a commitment from a Councillor to pursue potential changes to the UPass model and to include students as stakeholders in decision-making around transit.

University Administration

The SU continues to push the university to fulfill its promises on the Credit Granted (CG) option for students. The university made a commitment that all undergraduate students would have reasonable access to CG. Instead administration has allowed certain faculties to regulate CG out of existence. The SU is working on a solution to ensure some access for all students.

The university increased tuition through the Exceptional Tuition Increase process last year. Undergraduate increases occurred to engineering (32%) and Medicine (15.7%). The SU has asked that the university provide metrics for at least the next five years as to how these additional student dollars will be spent. The university has not provided metrics to this point and we will continue to push on this issue through the fall.

The Facts About the Q Centre Pandemic Closure

The Facts About the Q Centre Pandemic Closure 1200 801 Gene Baines

Over the last couple of years, the Q Centre, along with many other SU and campus spaces, have not operated to full capacity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic, the SU was forced to make many difficult administrative and operational decisions about our spaces and services, such as ensuring an essential level of staff and appropriate financial resources were available. Because more than 90% of our annual revenue is generated through on-campus businesses that had to be closed, the SU’s finances were devastated over the last two years, and we had to lay off more than 80% of our staff.

Despite this, the Q Centre was identified as a high priority service, even if we were only able to run it at limited capacity. We recognize that the centre provides vital support for vulnerable LGBTQ2SIA+ students, and this is precisely why we made efforts to provide programming and supports (including peer support) throughout the pandemic. While some have not been happy with this solution, our Q Centre coordinator and volunteers worked hard under difficult circumstances to offer peer support by appointment, information booths, social media content and engagement, and events during the physical closure of the centre.

When most classes returned to in-person learning in March of 2022, the SU made the difficult decision not to re-open its physical student spaces or the SU office. Clubs’ spaces, Volunteer Services, and the Q Centre remained closed. However, we’re happy to announce that the SU has hired Q Centre coordinators who will begin their roles shortly prior to the centre re-opening in the upcoming fall semester. We look forward to welcoming back students to these spaces.

There has been inaccurate information circulated recently about the decision to not re-open the Q Centre for the final weeks of the Winter 2022 semester. The SU would like to take the opportunity to address that here.

Why was the Q Centre not re-opened when most students returned to class in March 2022?

The SU was not able to open several physical student spaces in March and April 2022 including the Q Centre, Clubs’ spaces, and the Volunteer Services office. Opening these spaces required ongoing compliance with health measures from both government and university policies and presented potential health concerns for staff and students. When these policies were lifted, the SU made the decision (like many other university services) to prioritize safety and caution over a rapid, politically motivated re-opening and did not follow suit. We lacked the staffing and resources to ensure a safe re-opening at that time. Hiring and training volunteers was also challenging with the limited amount of time left in the term when students did return to campus. The SU did commit to offering some in-person events in the final weeks of the term while students were on campus. However, we remained unable to re-open the centre fully.

In light of the decision to keep these spaces closed, our Q Centre student coordinator and small team of volunteers continued to work hard to engage with students via social media. They made themselves available for support through appointments, information booths, and continued to run events when pandemic restrictions allowed. They also provided peer support appointments and other virtual resources upon request.

While we recognize that not everyone agrees with this solution, we did the best we could under challenging circumstances and sincerely appreciate the patience and compassion students have shown throughout this period of transition.

Why isn’t the Q Centre open for Spring and Summer 2022?

The Q Centre has never in its history been open during the spring and summer semesters. The space will be open again in fall 2022.

Why haven’t there been support services available for LGBTQ2SIA+ UCalgary students?

This is false information. While the physical Q Centre space has been closed, the Q Centre volunteers and SU staff have continued to provide support and important programming for students both virtually and in person.

Our Q Centre coordinator and volunteers offered support to the LGBTQ2SIA+ community through peer support by appointment, information booths, social media content and engagement, and events during the physical closure of the centre. Students were able to participate in a film screening, discussion night, information booths, and a skating event this past semester.

Why were decisions about the Q Centre space made without consulting the LGBTQ2SIA+ campus community?

The SU has always been committed to consulting with students on advocacy and programming. We do this frequently with the students who frequent the Q Centre, especially when it involves issues with the potential to impact the LGBTQ2SIA+ community. However, we hire staff to make operational decisions for the centre. Decisions that involve staffing, budgets, and safety are made by SU staff who are subject matter experts and have the experience to make informed and calculated choices.

Was the Q Centre Coordinator on the SU payroll during the Winter semester?

Yes. A part-time coordinator was hired to work 15 hours a week to coordinate the limited service the Q Centre could offer during the pandemic. During a “normal” year with the physical space opened, though, two coordinators would have been hired to effectively manage all the requirements of the centre.

Isn’t the Q Centre ‘self-sufficiently’ run by volunteers?

No. The day-to-day operations of the Q Centre in a “normal” year are managed by two paid Q Centre coordinators as well as volunteers. The centre is also supported by full-time SU staff who manage IT, risk management, budgeting and finance, human resources, health and safety, marketing, and maintenance of the facilities. Re-opening the centre is not as simple as unlocking the door.

Do volunteers only need a small amount of training to be able to support the Q Centre?

As with all of our volunteer programs, Q Centre volunteers are required to meet the SU’s high standard for volunteer management. This means that volunteers go through a rigorous training process and returning volunteers must complete this process annually.

Wasn’t the Q Centre created and fought for by students?

Queers on Campus proposed the creation of a centre for LGBTQ2SIA+ students over a decade ago and the idea was immediately and enthusiastically embraced by the SU. A queer SU staff member, who is still with the organization, was tasked with making the centre a reality and the SU opened the Q Centre less than a year later. To suggest that the SU fought against the creation of the Q Centre is completely false and erases all the hard work done by members of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community to build it.

Why did the SU stop responding to certain student communications on this matter?

The SU is proud of our reputation of being responsive to student concerns. SU staff and officials have continued to respond to student inquiries about the Q Centre. However, there has been an increasing amount of inappropriate, aggressive, and harassing behavior directed at SU elected officials, staff, and volunteers from a small group of students upset about the closure of the Q Centre. The SU has had to respond to threats to publicize names and contact information of SU officials and staff and belligerent in-person conduct at our information booths – this is unprofessional and bullying behaviour.

While the SU is always open to respectful advocacy, SU officials, staff, and volunteers do not deserve to be exposed to communications that harass them whether by phone, email, or social media. It is hypocritical of individuals who claim to be concerned about mental health issues to engage in behaviours, such as making personal threats and bullying, that are profoundly traumatizing for people. Such behaviour, coupled with a lack of accountability regarding their call to harass SU staff and officials, resulted in the SU ceasing contact with the individuals calling for this harassment.

Advocacy Blog – May 2022

Advocacy Blog – May 2022 150 150 Michael Brown

The new SU executive and Student Legislative Council were sworn in at the beginning of May and advocacy has continued since then.

The SU met with Minister Jason Copping, Alberta’s Health Minister and MLA for the university area. The SU highlighted the challenges students are facing finding work for the summer months. While we don’t yet have data on student summer work, we are hearing from students that this summer is a lot like last, where 1 in 4 students couldn’t find full-time summer work.

The SU highlighted its disappointed that students have now been left out of two provincial jobs programs. Jobs Now, announced last year, provided no support for students and limited help for new graduates finding their first job. The government also announced Alberta at Work this spring, which also provides no support to students finding work. This as the youth unemployment rate continues to be around double the provincial rate.

On a positive note, and thanks in part to SU advocacy, the NDP opposition announced plans to bring back the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) should the form government next year. STEP provided a wage subsidy to employers to incentivize student hiring. This created more student roles, often linked to a student’s field of study giving them relevant experience in their field. The NDP committed to expanding STEP to four times its previous funding. They estimate this would create 12,000 student positions across the province.

The SU is ramping up its local advocacy around transit and plans to meet with City Council on changes to the UPass program and discuss transit safety.

Looking ahead over the summer, the SU will be ensuring that the university honours its commitment to keeping tuition to the rate of inflation going forward. In addition, the SU will be looking hard at mandatory fees students pay to ensure that any increases come with enhanced value to students, or remain at their current rates.

Release: Data shows more than thirty per cent in cuts to Alberta post-secondary institutions

Release: Data shows more than thirty per cent in cuts to Alberta post-secondary institutions 150 150 Michael Brown

Data shows more than thirty per cent in cuts to Alberta post-secondary institutions

Calgary – Recently compiled data shows the depth of post-secondary funding cuts over the last five years in Alberta. Data from Higher Education Strategy Associates shows a 31% cut to funding over the last five years and a 9% per cent cut over the last year alone.

While provinces like British Columbia and Quebec have invested in education by bolstering funding over the last five years to the tune of 10% and 16%, respectively, Alberta has made, by far, the deepest cuts of any province.

“Over the last five years, but in the last three especially, Alberta has become a laggard when it comes to both post-secondary funding and student financial aid,” said SU President Nicole Schmidt. “Students are literally paying the price through increased tuition. Students have become a forgotten stakeholder. While the UCP meet with us, they largely fail to take action on student priorities like tuition, student aid, and jobs.”

In addition to massive cuts, the province has allowed tuition to balloon by approximately 25% for UCalgary students. The Minister of Advanced Education also approved double-digit increases to Engineering and Medicine for students starting this fall. The 2022 Alberta budget projects that Alberta students will pay $149 million more in tuition this year than they did last year.

“An Engineering student starting their studies this fall will pay about 60% more in tuition than in 2019,” said President Schmidt. “Students are telling us that they aren’t seeing increases in quality despite paying much, much more for their education. This is a problem and one the province is refusing to address.”

Students are not receiving much support from the Alberta government when it comes to funding their education either. Alberta’s student aid program relies most heavily on debt, meaning that students tackle skyrocketing tuition by going further into debt. Other provinces have a more even mix of debt and grant funding.

Finally, the province continues to fail students by not stepping up to provide a student jobs program. Both Jobs Now, announced last year, and Alberta at Work provide no support to help students find summer work to cover their ever-increasing tuition bills and living expenses. Last summer one in four UCalgary students who wanted full-time summer work were unable to find it. Summer 2022 looks no different.

It is time for the Alberta government to step up and support students through proper funding, student aid, and a jobs program.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown

External Communications Specialist

University of Calgary Students’ Union



Advocacy Update – April 2022

Advocacy Update – April 2022 150 150 Michael Brown

Throughout April, the SU advocacy team focused largely on engaging elected officials as well as developing the SU advocacy strategy targeted towards the provincial government.

The SU hosted the 11th annual Calgary Leaders’ Dinner in early April. The Leaders’ Dinner is an opportunity for SU students leaders and staff to mingle and have dinner with elected officials from all three orders of government. This year, 20 elected officials attended the event including Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, Health Minister Jason Copping, and Mayor Jyoti Gondek, who also delivered this year’s keynote address. Student leaders had the opportunity to build relationships and discuss issues like tuition, jobs, and financial aid with members of the government.

Throughout April, the SU focused on the student jobs issue. Since the cancellation of the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) in 2019, students have been without a targeted employment program to help them find summer or new graduate work. Students are struggling to find full-time summer work, just as they did the previous two summers. The pandemic has meant fewer opportunities and many students have had opportunities cancelled by employers. In 2020, 42% of UCalgary students surveyed couldn’t find full-time work or had opportunities cancelled. In 2021, this number was 25%. While that is an improvement, we don’t believe summer 2022 will be much better for students.

Despite two jobs programs being announced by the provincial government, in Jobs Now and Alberta at Work, students were overlooked for both. Youth unemployment is currently about double the rest of the population, and something must be done. To the SU’s understanding the province has no plans to implement a jobs program to help students. However, our advocacy will continue. We want to ensure that all students are able to work and help cover their tuition costs and living expenses.

The SU has taken a public approach and has spoken to reporters at the Calgary Herald. The SU President also appeared on CBC’s provincewide call-in show, Alberta at Noon, where student and summer work were discussed for the full hour.

Finally, the SU hosted its Colour Night gala to say a fond farewell to the outgoing 79th SLC and welcome the 80th SLC. The new executive team and SLC members will hit the ground running over the summer and push forward the SU’s advocacy goals.



2022 Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Awards Winners

2022 Students’ Union Teaching Excellence Awards Winners 1800 913 Michael Brown

Calgary – The Students’ Union (SU) announced yesterday the professors, instructors, and teaching assistants being honoured through the SU’s annual Teaching Excellence Awards (TEA). Awards and honourable mentions are being given to 39 exceptional members of the university community who have demonstrated their commitment to student success over the past academic year. The list of awardees includes two Hall of Fame inductees as well.

The annual TEA is the SU’s campus-wide recognition program giving undergraduate students the chance to honour and thank those instructors, professors, and teaching assistants who have supported and made a lasting and positive impression on their students. Students determine all nominees and winners.

“This year was, once again, a challenging one for students who moved back and forth between online and in-person delivery and faced many other COVID-related challenges,” said Renzo Pereyra, SU Vice President Academic. “It has also been challenging for all those who teach. The educators being honoured have prioritized students and committed to go above and beyond through very difficult circumstances. I would like to extend my congratulations to all those nominated this year.”

This year, the SU received 790 nominations and shortlisted 115 educators. Award winners will receive an Apple Award and a framed certificate. The SU will also donate $5,000 to the Taylor Centre for Teaching & Learning in recognition of the contributions made by the award winners.

The SU has been honouring teaching excellence at UCalgary since 1975, with the current format of TEA beginning in 1984. From the start, the awards were intended to give undergradaute students the opportunity to provide feedback on the quality of the university instruction they receive.


For more information about the SU TEA program, please visit The 2021/22 TEA Winner’s gallery can be found here.


The complete list of award winners and honourable mentions is available on the next page.


Inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown
External Communications Specialist
Cell: 403-560-0577


Hall of Fame Award winners Guido van Marle (left) and Carol A. Gibbons Kroeker (Photo: Getsey Boyd)







Teaching Excellence Award Winners

Cumming School of Medicine Jacques Rizkallah
Faculty of Arts Eleonora Buonocore
Faculty of Arts Brandy Callahan
Faculty of Arts Paul Meunier
Faculty of Arts Ruth Spivak
Faculty of Kinesiology Ryan Peters
Faculty of Law Lisa Silver
Faculty of Nursing Heather Bensler
Faculty of Science Erik Chan
Faculty of Science Jonathan Hudson
Faculty of Science Jerrod M. Smith
Faculty of Social Work Kerrie Moore
Haskayne School of Business Brent Snider
Haskayne School of Business Dr. Michael Wright
Schulich School of Engineering Kunal Karan
Schulich School of Engineering Qi Zhou
Werklund School of Education Catherine Burwell


Teaching Assistant Winners

Mannat Bansal
Graham Blyth
Tanisha Henry
Milanpreet Kaur
Omid Khajehdehi
Loïc Million
Kim Mikael Caldez Pasamonte
Steven William Sparksman
Ricky Tran
David Turnbull


Honourable Mention Award

Joy Camarao
Dr. Nadia Delanoy
Meysam Fereidouni
Rachel Friedman
Michael Holden
George Iskander
Joe Kadi
Janet Carmen Leahy
David Sigler
Gail Zuk


Hall of Fame Awards

Carol A. Gibbons Kroeker
Guido van Marle


SU approves new strategic plan

SU approves new strategic plan 150 150 Michael Brown

Three-year vision built on inclusivity, transparency, and respect



April 12, 2022


The Students’ Union (SU) has renewed its commitment to a vibrant community where students are able to thrive with the ability to create their own post-secondary journey.


The SU undertook months of consultation with students, SU staff, and elected student leaders leading to members of the Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) approving the SU’s new, three-year strategic plan.


This plan includes a renewed mission, vision, and values for the organization. This refreshed document will guide annual goal-setting and planning processes for new executives beginning next month when the 80th SLC is sworn-in.


The Strategic Plan balances the numerous programs and services that the SU offers to its role in advocacy directed towards university administration and the three orders of government. It makes a strong commitment to continuing to elevate and represent student voices through purposeful engagement and advocacy.


“Everything we do at the SU starts with listening to and engaging with students,” says SU President Nicole Schmidt. From surveys to town halls to student feedback via email or social media, the SU always wants to hear from students on how they want to be empowered to make the most out of their time at UCalgary.”


The plan also includes a list of values that the SU stands for and which motivate its elected officials and employees. These include striving to be leaders in equity, integrity, and ingenuity.


Learn more about the SU’s strategic plan by visiting our website.



Update on Bermuda Shorts Day Event

Update on Bermuda Shorts Day Event 150 150 Michael Brown

The Students’ Union (SU) has made the difficult decision not to host a Bermuda Shorts Day (BSD) event on the last day of classes this year.

The SU understands that this will be disappointing for many students. Students have faced a challenging year with shifts between online and in-person learning, the university moving courses online at the last minute, and significant increases to tuition.

Students have worked hard this academic year, during the pandemic, and deserve to celebrate the last day of classes.

Throughout the pandemic, the SU has prioritized its advocacy on keeping students safe. While health measures have been lifted across Alberta, and many measures have been lifted on campus, the SU cannot justify hosting an event that includes thousands of students in very close proximity to each other.

In short, the SU is not willing to take this risk to student health and safety.

We encourage all students to celebrate the last day of classes safely and we hope that we may be able to hold some type of BSD event in future years.

2022 SU General Election – The Results Are In

2022 SU General Election – The Results Are In 150 150 Michael Brown

Election results became official on March 18, 2022.


Calgary – The Students’ Union is today announcing the results of its general election which will form the 80th Students’ Legislative Council (SLC). After forums, debates, interviews, and campaigning, undergraduate students have chosen who will represent them to faculties, the university, and all orders of government.

For the first time in two years, students running in the election were able to campaign somewhat normally, in-person and on campus. In addition, and for the first time ever in a SU General Election, students had the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for a candidate who was running unopposed. This change was asked for by students and implemented by the most recent SLC.

Current SU President, Nicole Schmidt, ran unopposed and received 86% of the ‘yes’ vote, successfully being re-elected for another term as President. Joining her will be Shaziah Jinnah elected as Vice-President Academic (84%), and Adrian Alcantara as Vice-President Student Life (84%).

The race for Vice-President External was invalidated by a decision from the Review Board in response to an appeal. The position is expected to remain vacant until the By-Election in October.

For the final executive role, Vice-President Operations and Finance, three members of the current SLC were competing for the role. Taimur Akhtar received 40% of the vote to be elected to the position.

In Faculty Representative races, Emily MacPhail and Reeana Tazreean were elected as Cumming School of Medicine representatives with 42% and 31% of the vote, respectively.

Over in the Faculty of Science, the three representatives elected are Harold Zhu, Pragya Chopra, and Sandra Amin with 28%, 26%, and 24% of the vote, respectively.

Students were also asked three referendum questions on the topic of the SU Health and Dental Plan. The cost of the plan has not increased since 1993 and the viability of the plan is at risk. The first question asked students whether they approve of a constitutional amendment to allow the cost of the health and dental program to grow with inflation, up to 4% per year. Students voted 56% against this question.

The final two questions asked students whether they support a lump sum increase to the individual health or dental plans. Students voted in support of increasing the dental fee by $10 with 56% in support. They also opposed a lump sum increase to the health plan of $20 with 50.4% opposing the change.

2,390 students voted in the 2022 General Election. The results announced today are provisional and become official on March 18, 2022. Students elected will be sworn in at a ceremony on April 29 and begin their terms of office in May.

Other results include faculty representatives running uncontested for their roles. These roles required candidates to go through a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. The following candidates were successfully elected:

Faculty of Arts: Rachel Cabalteja, Areeba Nadeem, Ermia Rezaei-Afsah, Siraaj Shah, and Nathaniel Tschupruk.

Haskayne School of Business: Daniel Fine

Faculty of Law: Saliha Haq

Faculty of Nursing: Melody Chu

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine: Lauren Stoffregen

Werklund School of Education: Dhwani Joshi

UCalgary Senate Student-at-Large Representatives: Arafatul Mamur and Armaan Sidhu.

The SU will hold a By-Election in October to fill vacancies for the Vice-President External (1), Board of Governors Representative position (1) and faculty representatives in the Haskayne School of Business (1), Kinesiology (1), Social Work (1), and the Schulich School of Engineering (2). Temporary appointments may be made in the spring and summer to ensure representation for these positions on SLC.


Inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown
External Communications Specialist
Cell: 403-560-0577


Photo Credit: Gene Baines




Alberta budget fails to support student employment and increasing costs

Alberta budget fails to support student employment and increasing costs 150 150 Michael Brown

As oil prices hit highs not seen since 2014, students are also seeing the highest tuition in Alberta’s history. With the budget showing a surplus for the first time in a number of years, thanks to resource revenues, post-secondary students remain overlooked by this UCP government. Instead, students are seeing skyrocketing tuition and plummeting summer employment opportunities.


After several consecutive years of deep cuts to post-secondary institutions, totaling more than $600 million across the province, the government has failed to step up for students once again. Now is the time to re-invest in post-secondary education and ensure that students and graduates stop leaving the province and, instead, remain in Alberta.


Budget 2022 boasts that Alberta students paid over $1.6 billion in tuition fees, noting that this is an increase of $149 million over last year. The government projects students will pay for a further increase to tuition of $100 million by the end of this current fiscal plan. Students are paying much more for their education without a corresponding increase in quality, thanks to provincial cuts.


“If the UCP government is serious about maintaining a quality post-secondary system, they need to step up and fund it,” said SU President, Nicole Schmidt. “Students are seeing a decline in the quality of their education while paying significantly more tuition. The blame lies directly at the feet of this government. It’s not surprising young people are fleeing Alberta.”


University of Calgary students have seen their tuition rise by more than 25% over the last four years. This is directly the result of deep provincial cuts that have left students, and their families, covering these expenses. The Minister approved tuition increases in programs, like UCalgary Engineering, of more than 30% for students enrolling this September. This is not sustainable. The province has failed to support students with predictable funding and an affordable education.


The UCP government has also failed students by not implementing a program to support employers to hire students for summer work. In the summer of 2021, one in four UCalgary students surveyed were unable to find full-time summer work. The government’s Jobs Now program does not incentivize student summer employment. Students use the summer months to save money for their expenses while also gaining useful job skills for after graduation.


“The government has made it difficult for students to find summer employment,” said President Schmidt. “The UCP is raising costs for students and not providing any support to help cover those skyrocketing bills. The Premier ran on a promise of jobs, he and his team have broken that promise to students.”


The UCP must commit to predictably and adequately fund post-secondary education while also supporting students to find work.


Media Inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown, External Communications Specialist

Cell: 403-560-0577