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.

Update – Campus Bookstore Privatization

Update – Campus Bookstore Privatization 150 150 Michael Brown

Recently the SU found out that the university was in some level of discussion with an American company, Follett, to privatize the campus bookstore. These discussions were only brought our attention by bookstore staff who were told about the looming changes to bookstore operations. Students were not consulted whatsoever on potential changes.

Follett has a negative reputation on many campuses where it operates bookstores. It has raised the cost of textbooks on students while also often decreasing student choice on where to purchase books by having students pay for books up front when they pay their tuition. The bookstore currently sells textbooks as close to cost as possible and maintains a book loan program. The SU is concerned that this is at risk if the university pushes forward on privatization.

While a final decision on the future of the bookstore hasn’t yet been made, the Students’ Union has repeatedly asked for meetings to get an understanding of the status of discussions with Follett or any other company involved. The SU has also asked for a meeting to present student concerns on this issue. These meetings have been declined. The university has refused to meet with student leaders until after a decision on the path forward has been made.

This is unacceptable.

Students deserve the opportunity to present their feedback for administrators to consider in their decision-making process on the bookstore. It makes little sense to solicit feedback only after a decision has been made.

Bookstore privatization may not seem like a big deal but it could further increase student costs at a time where many students are looking at paying 22.5% more in tuition than when they began their studies.

If the university is serious about ensuring affordability, then it should scrap its risky privatization plan and it should certainly ask for student feedback and ideas. If the university feels it cannot sustainably run the bookstore, the SU would be happy to enter into discussions with the university to take over operations on a cost-recovery model.

However, at the very least students deserve a voice before any decisions are made. The SU calls on UCalgary administration to sit down with students while they are still exploring options rather than after a decision has been made.

Campus Bookstore Privatization

Campus Bookstore Privatization 150 150 wrushfel

Hey everyone, SU President Frank here.

Since finding out late on Wednesday about a possible deal between the university and an American company to operate the campus bookstore, the SU has been digging around to find more information.

My colleagues and I are deeply concerned about a company with a less than stellar reputation operating the bookstore. In particular, I am concerned that we will be paying more for books because of this deal, the transparency of the deal itself (why is this the first time we’re hearing about it?), and ensuring that we continue to have choice about if and where we purchase our textbooks.

Considering the continued increases to tuition, and the already huge amounts we pay for course materials, it makes no sense to follow that up with an increase to textbook costs. I brought student concerns forward at the U of C Board of Governors meeting this morning. My counterpart at AUPE (the staff union on campus) was very concerned about this as well, and members of the board vented some frustrations about this potential move.

All this to say we are going to continue investigating this and will fight to ensure that student interests are reflected in any potential outsourcing of the bookstore. This affects all of us and students should have been informed prior to discussions like this taking place. We are hearing conflicting views on how far along in the process the university is in this deal but we will find out. So stay tuned and I will update you as we get more info.

Frank Finley

SU President


First year students… have you voted yet?

First year students… have you voted yet? 150 150 Gene Baines

Hello first years!

Voting days are here, and the polls are open. I know for many of you, this will be your first ever SU Election. So here is a quick version of what you need to know.

Election for what?

The SU holds an election every March to determine who will be your student leaders for the next cycle (from May until next April, 2022).

Why should I bother voting?

I get it – you’re asking, “what does the SU even do?” Well, believe it or not, the SU has a profound impact on your student experience. We operate Mac Hall, advocate against unfair tuition increases, and host hundreds of events and programs each year.

Just in the last few weeks, your current SU exec successfully advocated for a CR/F option for your winter grades, and worked with our partner schools from across the province to apply public pressure through media to the Alberta government to freeze cuts to post-secondary education.

Ok you convinced me… how do I vote?

It’s so easy, I promise. First, check out all the candidates’ platforms here to see who is running and what matters to them. Then log into your Student Centre at to cast your vote! You can literally vote from anywhere, right up until Thursday at 4 p.m.

The election results will be announced on Thursday evening on the SU’s social media, so make sure you follow us @SUUofC.


All the best,

Frank Finley,
President, Students’ Union

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Alberta Budget continues to squeeze students

Alberta Budget continues to squeeze students 150 150 admin

CALGARY – The University of Calgary Students’ Union is disappointed but not surprised by the continued lack of support shown by the UCP government towards students. The provincial budget revealed continued deep cuts to post-secondary that will see tuition and student costs rise while also forcing the university to cut supports and services that students use.

The university expects a nearly $90 million cut to their budget based on previous and current provincial budgets. As a result, students can expect to see their tuition increase by up to 22.5% by the time this budget is fully implemented. In another short-sighted move the government eliminated the tuition tax credit which amounts to a $200 million tax hike on students and their families.

“If students were to receive a better, higher quality education by paying more that would be easier to swallow, but the university is being forced to cut staff in addition to raising tuition. Online learning also doesn’t provide the same campus experience. In short, thanks to these continued cuts students are paying a lot more and getting far less.” – Frank Finley, SU President

Beyond the cuts, the SU is disappointed to see no plan to help undergraduate students find work this summer or once they graduate. Last year nearly one-third of students surveyed were unable to find any summer work at all. Another 12% indicated they found summer work, but their employer cancelled the position. Students are facing dwindling summer job prospects while being asked to pay more for their educations.

“Students are struggling to cover the cost of their education already and a lack of summer opportunities means they will go further into debt and be unable to even cover their basic expenses as well. We encouraged the province to bring back the STEP program or a similar student job program. Our calls have fallen on deaf ears.” – Marley Gillies, SU VP External

Silver linings in the budget were non-existent. For the last five years the provincial government has committed funds for post-secondary student mental health services and supports. There appears to be no such commitment in the 2021 budget. The SU hopes that the province did not cut mental health funding for students in the midst of a pandemic.

Overall, the SU is incredibly disappointed with the government’s lack of commitment to post-secondary education. While the UCP government cries poor, it has provided $4.5 billion in tax cuts to corporations and lost more than $1.5 billion in the Keystone XL deal. Investing even a portion of those funds in universities or colleges would have prepared students for jobs in the new economy and provide a solid boost to student and new graduate employment. Instead, more and more educated young Albertans are leaving the province for greener pastures.

Media Inquiries may be directed to:

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

News on CR/F for Winter 2021

News on CR/F for Winter 2021 150 150 admin

Hi all, SU President Frank here.

I wanted to update everyone on the status of Credit Received/Fail for the winter semester. As you know, we had the option for CR for one course in fall, but I wanted to ensure that something was in place this semester as well. While there is work being on done on a permanent policy that will allow students to take CR for a certain proportion of courses during the course of their degree, this policy will not be ready for approval until late March.

Since I believed it was important for students to know their options as early as possible in the semester, I recommended that we either push the policy forward, or put in place another temporary policy. An hour ago, I got out got out of the committee meeting in which the status of CR/F for winter was decided, and I wanted to share the news with everyone.

This semester, students will have the choice of a CR grade option for one course as follows:

  • Undergraduate students may request a CR grade for a single course where the final grade is a C- and above. A single course can be one of a 3 unit, 1.5 unit, 1 unit or .75 unit course.
  • Graduate students may request a CR grade for a single unit course where the final grade is a B- and above. A single course can be one of a 3 unit, 1.5 unit, 1 unit or .75 unit course.
  • May 14, 2021 is the deadline for students to request the CR grade for a Winter 2021 term course.
  • A course where the CR is applied will not count towards a student’s GPA.
  • This may be applied to courses scheduled during the Winter 2021 term (regular, block week, non-standard)

I hope that this CR grade will relieve some stress for everyone. Even if you don’t have any intention of requesting a CR grade, I think it’s nice to have in your back-pocket just in case.

ALSO, your hundreds of letters to university admin last semester in favour of CR/F were amazing, and certainly helped this discussion to continue. These CR/F policies are not insignificant wins and could not have been delivered if students did not make themselves collectively heard!

Frank Finley,
SU President

Bermuda Shorts Day 2021

Bermuda Shorts Day 2021 150 150 admin

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major changes to the university experience for all students at the University of Calgary and across Canada. The SU has shifted much of its programming online to continue to engage and support students. However, this is not possible for many events like concerts and conferences. Our top priority is the health and safety of all UCalgary students. That’s why the SU has made the difficult decision to cancel our Bermuda Shorts Day (BSD) programming for 2021.

BSD is a UCalgary tradition celebrating the last day of classes of the winter semester and the SU’s BSD beer garden and concert has always provided a safe space for students to celebrate. With the ongoing pandemic it is clear that an in-person event, and one similar to previous years, cannot occur given the current restrictions.

We know this will be disappointing for many students, especially this year, who may have been looking for an opportunity to unwind after a more stressful academic year than normal. Online classes, increased social isolation, and a disconnection from the physical space of campus have all added to the challenges that university students face.

Rest assured the SU will continue to offer programming to engage and support students, it just may look a bit different than usual for the time being. There will come a time where we can all celebrate again as a campus community and the SU will be there to support that opportunity.

Inquiries can be directed to:

Mike Brown
External Communications Specialist
Students’ Union, University of Calgary

Winners of Students’ Union 2020 Research Symposium Announced

Winners of Students’ Union 2020 Research Symposium Announced 150 150 admin

Undergraduates Recognized for Excellence in Research

Nov. 25, 2020

Calgary, AB – The winners of the 15th annual Students’ Union’s (SU) Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) were announced in 17 different categories. A total of $23,000 was awarded to undergraduate researchers.

This year’s event was held online to accommodate physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Student researchers were invited to submit their abstracts in early October, and those selected to participate created five-minute videos to present their findings.

“Normally, posters are presented in person at a showcase in MacEwan Hall. This year’s event showed how students are meeting the unique challenges of 2020,” said Students’ Union VP Academic Semhar Abraha. “Students have had to embrace video as a form of communication this year and participants were challenged to hone their presentation skills to fit a short video format. We have been so impressed with these presentations.”

The URS seeks to make research accessible, and the symposium provided 48 participants with the opportunity to reach a wide audience online. A team of more than 35 judges made up of faculty and staff from the University of Calgary had the difficult task of determining the best submissions. The URS research presentations can be viewed on as a playlist on the SU’s YouTube channel from Nov. 23 – 27.


See the full list of this year’s URS award winners here (PDF download) or on this page.

Media Contact:

Jason Morgan
Assistant General Manager

Tenth Anniversary of Students’ Union Q Centre Celebrated

Tenth Anniversary of Students’ Union Q Centre Celebrated 150 150 admin

Intentional community identity building, the importance of LGBTQ+ spaces, and the legacy of students’ investment highlighted 

November 2, 2020

CALGARY, AB – On November 3rd, the Students’ Union (SU) will be proudly celebrating the tenth anniversary of the only space at the University of Calgary devoted to serving our lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ+) community and their allies.

The SU Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, known as the Q Centre, first opened its doors on November 3, 2010. The space, administered by the SU and operated by a team of dedicated volunteers, offers a safe and supportive environment for students to hang out in, as well as educational programs and resources.

In 2014, the SU expanded the capacity of the Q Centre to provide diverse programming and services by opening a newly renovated space using an SU Quality Money grant. With over 1,000 ft2 of space, the Q Centre expanded their library, offered a new reconfigurable multipurpose space for events, studying, and networking, and added private office spaces and a reception area.

“We are so proud of the work that the Q Centre has done to build a strong and thriving LGBTQ+ community on our campus,” said Frank Finley, Students’ Union President. “Thanks to the dedication of our volunteers and the investments students have made through SU Quality Money, the Q Centre serves to promote awareness and acceptance while offering community to students and other members of our university.”

In honor of the anniversary the SU Q Centre is hosting speaker and activist James Demers for a discussion on building community identity and queer space and how the evolution of these spaces is vital for connecting the future of the Pride movement to current social movements.

“Students have always been a key part of creating social change,” Finley added. “We are grateful for the opportunity to discuss the importance of this work with James, as we know that there is still more work to do and barriers to break down both on our campus and within our society.”

The SU is looking forward to continuing the work that the Q Centre has started throughout its ten-year history, including working to promote awareness and acceptance of different sexual identities through educational programs, partnerships with the university, and advocacy. Q Centre coordinators and volunteers pushed for the university’s first multi-stall gender-inclusive washroom, hosted awareness events during Sex Week, and led the SU’s involvement with Calgary Pride, and new events and initiatives, including remote peer support, are always being developed.


Media Contact:

Marcus Plottel, External Communications Specialist
403-829-9208 /

Images (credit for all to Gene Baines/SU Staff):



New Board of Governors student-at-large and Faculty of Social Work Representative elected

October 16, 2020, CALGARY, AB – Results of the Students’ Union (SU) By-Election were announced at the end of the day on Friday. Two positions were open going into this week’s vote, and campaigning was primarily online due to COVID-19.


Students elected ­­­­Mickail Hendi as their new student-at-large representative to the UCalgary Board of Governors. Hendi captured 45% percent of the vote.


Additionally, Chief Returning Officers declared Jovanna Rodney acclaimed to the position of Representative for the Faculty of Social Work having run unopposed. Rodney had served as the appointed representative to the same position since May 1, 2020.


“I would like to congratulate Jovanna and Mickail for their commitment to stepping up to represent their fellow students, and I look forward to working with both of them” said Frank Finley, SU President. “Additionally, I would like to acknowledge and thank Alisha Gordon for holding the interim position of Board of Governors student-at-large representative and bringing students’ views and opinions to the Board with passion, tact, and chutzpah. Governor Gordon has been an exceptional board representative, and students have been lucky to have her.”


Having been appointed when the position was left vacant in the 2020 SU General Election, Gordon served as the Board of Governors student-at-large representative since May 1, 2020. She had previously served two terms as the Senate student-at-large representative and one term as the SU Vice President Student Life in 2019-20.


This year’s By-Election saw 372 students vote. This represents 1.1% of eligible student voters. By-Election results become official on October 26, 2020.




Media Contact: Marcus Plottel, External Communications Specialist

(403) 829-9208 //


For Further Election Information: Amanda Cha, Chief Returning Officer