SU releases bookstore privatization survey results

SU releases bookstore privatization survey results 150 150 Michael Brown

In the Spring, the SU learned that the university was exploring privatizing the campus bookstore by contracting out operations to an American company. The SU approached the university with questions and concerns and learned that the university was exploring a number of options on bookstore operations. Because the bookstore is very well utilized by students, the SU began advocacy on the issue and is opposed to privatization of the bookstore. The company the university had approached has a less than stellar reputation when it comes to managing operations of campus bookstores and has raised costs for students in many cases.

The SU put out a survey to undergraduate students asking for their feedback to both get an understanding of the importance of the bookstore for students as well as better understand how students felt about any changes to bookstore operations. Nearly 2,000 students filled out the survey. Thank you for providing us with your thoughtful feedback.

It is clear from the survey that the bookstore is important to students with a majority using the bookstore to purchase a large amount of their course materials as well as school supplies and UCalgary branded merchandise.

Students overwhelmingly oppose any plan to privatize bookstore operations. 89% of students oppose the university making such a move. If the university feels it cannot run the bookstore any longer, 93% of students believe the SU should take over operations. The SU already successfully runs the Bound & Copied used bookstore.

The survey is being sent to university administration and publicly released. The data gathered will be used to inform SU advocacy on this very important topic. The full results can be viewed through the link below.

Bookstore Privatization Survey Report

Release – Students call for delay to exceptional tuition increases due to lack of consultation

Release – Students call for delay to exceptional tuition increases due to lack of consultation 150 150 Michael Brown

CALGARY – Student leaders had the opportunity to question UCalgary administration on the exceptional tuition increases being proposed for undergraduate students in Engineering and Medicine. Students asked several questions about the consultations that the university has said they’ve been engaged in since March and raised concerns as to why the Students’ Union was not made aware of any proposal until mid-May.

The university is proposing a 15.7% increase for Medical Doctor students and 32% and 51% for Bachelor of Engineering domestic and international students, respectively.

The university admitted that students surveyed in affected faculties in March and April were not told it was in relation to an exceptional increase. This means that students were asked to fill out a survey with no context and no numbers as to the percentage increases students were facing.

“This is like government putting out a survey on building a new highway without saying where the highway is going or how much it will cost. Students were left in the dark on what the surveys were about. I’m not sure how the university can claim they’ve conducted meaningful consultation on tuition increases without saying by how much or why tuition is increasing.” – SU President, Nicole Schmidt

Students were only informed of the details of the exceptional tuition proposal in May, after classes had finished and students left for summer break. The Students’ Union has contacted student leaders from the affected faculties, and all have said that no details were provided until May.

The university has a ten-month window, from September to the end of June, to consult on and then submit exceptional tuition increases to the province. This means that the university had ample opportunity to plan ahead and bring these increases forward while students were in classes.

“The university appears to have made a deliberate choice in only unveiling the details of these increases after students went on summer break. This kneecapped the ability of the SU to advocate for students and denied students the opportunity to provide feedback on the detailed proposal.” – SU President, Nicole Schmidt

The SU calls for this process be halted until adequate student consultation can be conducted, as per government regulations. The SU is putting together a detailed list of what the bare minimum for meaningful student consultation should look like. Once complete, this list will be shared with students, the university, and the government.

Until the consultation threshold is met, the SU calls on the university to delay the increases until they can conduct real consultation with students on campus starting in September. Failing that, the SU calls on Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides to delay the proposals until at least the fall and direct the university to properly consult with students.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown

External Communications Specialist

University of Calgary Students’ Union

Cell: 403-560-0577


Statement – Kamloops residential school

Statement – Kamloops residential school 150 150 Michael Brown

The University of Calgary Students’ Union is heartbroken at the discovery of the bodies of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school in Kamloops. This loss is devastating and unimaginable. The SU stands with residential school survivors as we collectively grieve this tremendous loss. Canada was and remains party to a legacy of colonialism that can only be healed through the actions of truth and reconciliation. The horrific abuse that Indigenous children suffered after being taken from their families and their language and culture forbidden must not be forgotten as we all move forward in the spirit of reconciliation.


The SU calls upon the University of Calgary and all orders of government to fully implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. For our part, the SU Quality money program has funded programs on campus that support Indigenous students and foster positive relationships with Indigenous communities. There is much more work to do and we all must re-double our efforts in the name of reconciliation.


While symbolic, we must also remove from places of reverence those who created and supported the residential school system. That’s why the decision made by the Calgary Board of Education to rename Langevin School is positive, but it is well overdue. The SU thanks the students of the now newly named Riverside School for not giving up in their four year battle to re-name the school. The SU calls on the Calgary Catholic School Division to re-name Bishop Grandin School and to do so immediately. Only then can we move forward together and begin to heal the wounds of the past.

Teaching Excellence Winners Announced

Teaching Excellence Winners Announced 1500 1001 Gene Baines

Check out the video honouring the winning Professors and TA’s.

Extreme tuition hikes to engineering, medical programs will harm access, student trust

Extreme tuition hikes to engineering, medical programs will harm access, student trust 150 150 Michael Brown


Extreme tuition hikes to engineering, medical programs will harm access, student trust

CALGARY – University of Calgary administration presented plans for massive tuition increases at an information session during the Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) last night. Student leaders saw this proposal for the first time at this meeting, with no documents being provided in advance. These increases would be on top of two consecutive years of ten per cent increases in the engineering faculty, with more increases likely in the future.

Undergraduate engineering students from Canada who start their studies in September 2022 can expect an increase in tuition of 32 per cent and international engineering students will see a 51 per cent increase. Students who enroll in the Medical Doctor program will pay 15.7 per cent more. Exceptional increases must be approved by the Minister of Advanced Education.

“After two consecutive years of major increases across the board for students, with another likely this year, the University of Calgary is demanding even more. The university is placing the burden of the financial chasm created by provincial cuts squarely on the backs of students. If the university is looking to drive students further into debt, they are on the right path.” – SU President, Nicole Schmidt

Canadian students starting their engineering studies in 2022 will pay nearly 60 per cent more than the base tuition for students who started their studies in 2018. Increases of this magnitude are not sustainable for students.

It is disappointing that these proposed increases were brought forward immediately after students finished their classes and exams. The University of Calgary has a duty to consult students in the affected faculties, as well as the Students’ Union, and it is difficult to see how the university can effectively do this while students are on summer break.

In the information session with the SU, the university blamed provincial cuts as a large part of the need for exceptional increases. However, the provincial cuts are not valid grounds for these exceptional increases according to provincial policy. Exceptional increases may only be brought forward if it is to increase program quality. The Students’ Union asked for details on how more tuition revenue would be spent in advance of the meeting last night, but nothing detailed was provided by the university in advance or in person.

The Students’ Union has extended an invitation to university administration to return to SLC on June 1st to conduct a consultation now that student leaders are aware of the proposal and will have the opportunity to speak to their peers. The SU looks forward to receiving an itemized and costed list of program improvements at this meeting, should the university agree to attend.

Should the increases be presented to the Minister, the SU calls on Minister Nicolaides to reject or delay the proposed increases so that students currently in the faculty can be adequately consulted on these proposals.

Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown

External Communications Specialist

University of Calgary Students’ Union

Cell: 403-560-0577


April Advocacy Blog

April Advocacy Blog 150 150 Michael Brown

April was a busy month on the advocacy front for the SU. The Alberta 2030 initiative was released, the new executive team began their orientations to be able to hit the ground running, the SU continued to push the provincial government on the issue of a poor job market for students, and the SU continues its advocacy and campaign on the potential privatization of the campus bookstore.

The SU met twice with Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides to discuss Alberta 2030 and other issue of relevance to students. Alberta 2030 was released at the end of April. Thanks to SU advocacy and advocacy through CAUS, the final product was a watered down version from what was expected early in the UCP term. The final Alberta 2030 initiative remains a net negative for students and the SU is remaining vigilant on how the UCP government implement it. You can read the SU’s news release on Alberta 2030 here.

In mid-April the SU put out a news release on the lack of a student job program from the province. The UCP government cancelled that Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) in 2019. STEP provided a wage subsidy to employers to encourage them to hire students for the summer months. The news release garnered a lot of attention over the following two weeks. The government responded by saying the Jobs Now program announced in the budget, along with Mitacs, will help get students employed. Unfortunately, Jobs now isn’t creating any jobs now for students and Mitacs is largely focused on graduate students. The SU will continue to push the government to better support students.

Finally, the SU has put out a survey on the potential privatization of bookstore operations by the university. The SU is very concerned about a potential plan to outsource and privatize operations of the campus bookstore to Follett or to any private company. Universities who have done this have seen textbook costs rise and agreements rarely have any student benefit. The survey closed on May 7 and results will be compiled and released. Stay tuned as we continue to work hard on this issue.

As we move into the summer months, our advocacy efforts will continue and we will be sure to keep all students up to date.

News Release: Students head towards another jobless summer

News Release: Students head towards another jobless summer 150 150 Michael Brown

Calgary – University of Calgary students are finished their classes and writing their exams but don’t yet know what the next few months hold for them as they prepare for the summer. Many students work through the summer to save money for tuition, textbooks, and their living expenses. However, this year the pandemic and a lack of support from the provincial government once again means many won’t find work and will go further into debt.


Last summer nearly one-third of UCalgary students surveyed said they couldn’t find work at all, with another twelve per cent saying they had opportunities cancelled at the last minute due to the pandemic. This scenario is very likely to repeat itself this summer unless the UCP government steps up.


“In less than two weeks students will be done exams. Students want to work and we know many employers want to hire, both sides just need a little help. At a time when students are paying more thanks to provincial cuts and resulting skyrocketing tuition, students are also being left out in the cold when it comes to finding a job.” – Frank Finley, SU President


For the last year, the Students’ Union has called on the provincial government to implement a student-focused job program to support both students and employers. These calls have fallen on deaf ears. No provincial support for students was identified in the Alberta budget and federal support for student jobs is very limited. Many employers simply can’t afford to hire summer students or new grads thanks to the pandemic, but that could change with provincial financial support.


The Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) was cancelled by the UCP government in 2019. STEP provided a wage subsidy to employers to incentivize the hiring of students or new grads for the summer months. This program supported thousands of students to work, pay their bills, and gain skills and work experience they need for after graduation.


The SU has called for STEP to be re-implemented or a similar program created. The SU has called on both Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping and Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides to bring in a program.


The SU renews its call on the UCP government to take action on the student jobs crisis. Students can’t afford two consecutive summers without work.


Media inquiries may be directed to:

Mike Brown

External Communications Specialist

University of Calgary Students’ Union

Cell: 403-560-0577


Bookstore Privatization – Meeting with Administration

Bookstore Privatization – Meeting with Administration 150 150 Michael Brown

SU President Frank Finley and VP Operations and Finance Mohammad Ali met with university administration yesterday evening on the topic of the privatization of the campus bookstore.

Going into the meeting, the SU was concerned about increased costs on students not only for textbooks but for supplies and apparel that are sold at the bookstore. In addition, programs like the Book Loan Program and even student ability to shop around to find the best price on textbooks could be at risk.

The university informed the SU that they are considering all options. However, when asked about considering a partnership with the SU or allowing the SU to run the bookstore itself, university administration said they would not consider this option, despite the SU successfully running Bound & Copied and several other Mac Hall businesses.

However, the SU did receive several important verbal commitments from the university:


  • Students will not be forced to purchase from the bookstore
  • Students will be able to purchase second-hand books from Bound & Copied or elsewhere
  • The Book Loan Program and the Book Buyback Program will be maintained
  • Costs for other materials sold at the bookstore will not rise unreasonably


The university has previously committed to not allow textbook markups to increase and will include that in any contract signed with Follett or another vendor.

While this is positive, it remains unclear how the university would enforce these commitments and it’s worth asking why this hasn’t occurred at other institutions with Follett bookstores. In many cases, other institutions realize very quickly that making a deal with Follett is a mistake and try to exit the contract. By this point, however, the damage is done.

It still remains unclear at this point what will happen to current bookstore staff, including student employees who work there. This is concerning.

The university is planning to survey students and the university community. The university did not commit to share the survey results with the SU or make them public. In order to understand student concerns better, the SU will be putting out a survey on the bookstore as soon as possible.

The SU will continue to hold the university to account and press the university to demonstrate the benefit to the institution but also, more importantly, how students will benefit from any agreement with Follett or another provider.

Further Update – Campus Bookstore Privatization

Further Update – Campus Bookstore Privatization 150 150 Michael Brown

Students stood up and the university took notice. Today the university has agreed to meet with SU representatives to discuss the bookstore and will be launching a survey on the bookstore in the coming days. This is thanks to unrelenting student pressure since the bookstore privatization plan broke nearly two weeks ago.


While this is good news, the fight is not over.


SU President Frank Finley and Operations and Finance VP Mohammad Ali will meet with university VP Finance and Services Linda Dalgetty tomorrow, April 15.


In a public statement today, Ms. Dalgetty confirmed that the university will not sell the bookstore but are still considering privatization of operations with Follett or another company. While this privatization will include university oversight, questions remain. The statement also committed to no increase in the current markup of textbooks.


This is good news. After first declining a meeting with student leaders until a path had been chosen, the university is sitting down with the SU sooner than expected. The university actively seeking student feedback through a survey is also a new development and is unlikely to have happened without student pressure on the university.


There is still much more work to do if we are to save the bookstore from privatization and inevitable increased costs on students. While textbooks may not increase in mark-up, what does this mean for other products the bookstore sells like apparel and school supplies such as notebooks, pens, and pencils? Will students still be able to purchase textbooks from wherever they want including online or second hand?


A number of questions remain and these will be asked of Ms. Dalgetty at this meeting. The SU does not believe that an institution that considers itself an entrepreneurial university should throw up its hands and outsource operations to a billion-dollar American company. What risk to the university’s reputation does such a decision carry with it?


These concerns will be raised at this meeting and students can expect a further update from the SU on Friday.

Advocacy Update – March 2021

Advocacy Update – March 2021 150 150 Michael Brown

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.