External Policies: What Are They?

If you read the title of this post, and are still reading, I commend you and your steadfastness. The purpose of this post is to give you a little more of an insight into what exactly the ULSU External Policies are, as well as to not so subtly plug the Advocacy Advisory Committee which develops them.

First off, what are External Policies? Well, they are documents which state the position of our organization, at least in relation to things within the realm of the governance decisions of the University of Lethbridge or the actions of different levels of government. These documents give our advocates positions from which to present their arguments for things such as why tuition should be capped at CPI, for instance. These, alongside the policies of CAUS and CASA, the two lobby organizations of which we are a part of, allow us to have more meat in our arguments when we discuss post-secondary issues with decision-makers. Furthermore, it provides organizational continuity, as least in the beliefs of the organization relating to post-secondary advocacy, and, in many cases, it takes multiple years of advocating on something in order for that change to be implemented, making these policy statements absolutely vital.

So how can you help?

The ULSU has a committee charged with advocacy, known as the Advocacy Advisory Committee. It’s main roles are to create and maintain our external policy statements, as well as to assist the Vice-President External and President in other efforts, such as campaigns. And, anyone can join it! Students at large are welcome, and in fact, highly sought after! If you enjoy being a part of the creation of policy, have a love of lobbying, or really enjoy putting on campaigns, then this is the ULSU committee for you.

Interested?

Contact me at su.external@uleth.ca, or stop by my office in SU180.

ULSU 2013 T-shirt Design Contest!

The ULSU 2013 T-shirt Design Contest is happening now! The submissions were narrowed down to the top three, which are up on Facebook for voting. After October 31st, the designs will be awarded first, second, and third place, based on Facebook likes.

Follow the link to see the designs and to cast your vote:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.685468071472676.1073741830.214459811906840&type=1

The Importance of Getting Involved

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

This quote from Gandhi is more true today than ever before, because we have so many more ways of communicating today then we have ever had. I also believe that a lot more people are striving to make the changes they want to see in the world (or on campus). 

We at the Students’ Union want our students to communicate and get involved with our organizations as much as possible. We have a lot of excellent options for students to get involved. The easiest and one of the best programs we offer through the Students’ Union is our volunteer core. This is a mailing list that students can sign up for and they will receive emails of when the Students’ Union requires volunteers and students decide if they are available and respond. We also send out requests for volunteers from internal university groups and the Lethbridge community. 

We have several committees that students can join as well, which would be a step up from simply being a casual volunteer. There is:

The Advocacy Advisory Committee:

- This committee focuses on advocacy at the municipal, provincial, and federal level. It will be especially exciting this year with the potential opening of the post-secondary learning act. The committee really focuses on our two lobby groups the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS). The students on our committee will help us flag significant issues that our students at the University of Lethbridge have and guide us on our external policy development.

The Student Engagement Committee:

-This committee was created to help aid the VP Student Affairs and VP Academic with ensuring that they are organizing events that our students want to see on campus. It has really developed into an engagement committee as well, which allows us to better engage our students and work on different communication strategies. If you are into organizing events or have an idea of how we can better engage our student population this is definitely the committee for you! 

Another great option for engaging with the students’ union is by joining a club or another student driven organization like the Women’s Centre, LPIRG, or CKXU. If you want to learn more about clubs I encourage you to download the ULSU App and check out the Clubs section. If you are interested in learning about other groups on campus feel free to contact me!

Here at the ULSU we do understand that committees are not necessarily an avenue of choice for everyone. I encourage you to hold us accountable by engaging with us on any avenue you are most comfortable with. Whether that is stopping by the office and voicing your opinion directly, emailing me at su.president@uleth.ca, or voicing any comments/concerns via social media I encourage you to do so. We are always listening and we want to ensure we are representing all of our students. 

_________

Shuna Talbot- President

 

Summer Advocacy

Summer Advocacy

Now that we are all (mostly) settled back into the grind of things, I thought that I would bore you all with an update on the ULSU’s advocacy efforts over the summer. I’m kidding! It’s actually going to be really exciting. You are a very lucky person to be reading this article!

As you may be aware, there were some cuts to post-secondary education by the provincial Conservative government this past spring, this meant that May to June was an incredibly busy time for Shuna and myself. We put in a lot of miles all around Southern Alberta meeting with pretty much every MLA in the region. We were lucky enough to travel to such exotic locales as Medicine Hat, meeting with Wild Rose MLAs Drew Barnes and Blake Pedersen, as well as staying closer to home and meeting with Ian Donovan (WR), Gary Bikman (WR), Bridget Pastoor (C), Greg Weadick (C), as well as getting a meeting with Pat Stier (WR) for next week. But definitely, the most exciting thing this summer for our provincial advocacy had to be the opportunity to sit down with the leaders of the NDP (Brian Mason), and the Liberals (Raj Sherman). We can certainly say that by and large, many of the things that we have pushed for, such as MNIF regulation have been very warmly accepted by those we have met with, and some very good progress has been made indeed.

Federally, we have been able to meet with Jim Hillyer (C), who is the MP for Lethbridge, and LaVar Payne (C), who is the MP for Medicine Hat. Both Jim and LaVar agreed with us on the necessity for greater exemptions, such as for in-study income with the CSLP (Canada Student Loan Plan). Further to that, Jim was extremely supportive of our ask relating to the PSSSP (Post-Secondary Student Support Program).

Municipally, we will have met with all three mayoral candidates by this Friday, as well as several of the candidates for City Councilor. We have also made a very concerted push for an advanced polling station on campus, as well as making sure that transit is an important issue for ALL candidates running in the upcoming election.

As we move into early fall, keep an eye out for several events coming up, namely: the Danielle Smith – Brian Mason Debate on September 26th at 7pm in the Zoo Ballrooms, A municipal election engagement campaign in early-mid October, and a CASA (Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, the federal lobby group we are a part of) Canada-wide campaign on student debt happening in mid to late October.

Don’t forget to stop by the table tomorrow during Rush Week! We are giving away a ton of free swag!

ULSU executive council concerned about ease of voting in municipal election

Below you will find a press release we released yesterday about our concerns with the municipal election.

Lethbridge, Alberta – The executive council at the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union recently lobbied the city of Lethbridge in an attempt to acquire a polling station on the University of Lethbridge campus for the upcoming October municipal election.

Much to their disappointment their proposal was rejected.

ULSU President, Shuna Talbot says that she and VP External, Sean Glydon, have spoken with a number of municipal candidates that have been extremely receptive to the concerns of the city’s young people and students.

“We are trying to engage the youth for the city. The youth will vote if they are informed, ” say Talbot. “We were trying to get the polling stations on campus to ease students’ ability to vote.”

In order to vote in this election, voters must have been a resident of Alberta for at least six months and live in Lethbridge on election day; a criteria most students meet.

Talbot points out that the campus community consists of approximately 10,000 employees and students and that easy access to a polling stations could encourage a larger overall voter turnout.

“Considering the city only had about 24,500 citizens out of a possible 70,000 voters, vote in the last municipal election they should be striving to engage all demographics of their citizenry,” she says.

“This is very unfortunate and the city is clearly not taking youth engagement very seriously.”

This is a very challenging situation to be in because Sean, Lethbridge College Student Association representatives, and I have been working very hard throughout the summer to engage with mayoral candidates and aldermen candidates. Sean and I have been working on coordinating campaigns to inform our students of the municipal election and the candidates. We have met with people in the city to ensure that we have the information on what documentation students will need to bring with them on election day.

We also house 2000 employees at the University who would have the opportunity to vote during advance polls or on election day. The city has had challenges in the past with engaging citizens during election time and have made large strides with easing the access of voting for those individuals with limited mobility. My question is why wouldn’t you want to move the polling station to the University (or at least offer an advanced polling station) where you will have an increase in voter turnout just because the amount of people that are on campus? We are offering the city a free solution, no cost to them for utilizing the Student Union ballrooms and they don’t want to accommodate that?

Arguments were made that by having polling stations on University Campuses it compromises an election. We reviewed the CRO’s report on the federal election (the last time we had a polling station on campus) and the only challenges that were apparent was that a lot of students did not have appropriate documentation.

We want to see a polling station on campus. This municipal election.

 

Executive Action Plan

Hello Students,

I have added our PDF copy of  Executive Action Plan for the 2013-2014 academic year! We have 20 different initiatives we hope to accomplish as an executive this year. The 20 initiatives fall under one of the four pillars of our strategic plan which are:

  • Confirm a Prominent On-Campus Profile
  • Provide the Highest Quality of Services
  • Strengthen our Advocacy Efforts
  • Encourage Sustainability within the ULSU and on Campus

We as an executive will meet in December and create mid-review document touching base on what we have accomplished and what we need to re-focus on or discuss other ways of accomplishing that specific initiative. We will meet again at the end of March and create a final document of what we accomplished and what still needs to be focused on. This will allow us to report to the next executive on whether we took on to many initiatives or if we could have done more. This will give the next executive a better ideas of what is attainable. These documents will also create more accountability to you, our students, because we will actually be able to document actual accomplishments.

________

Shuna Talbot – President

Breaking News with International Implications

The federal lobby group which the ULSU is a part of; CASA (the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations) has just released to the media concerning an issue which may affect our incoming international students.  A labor dispute between the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers and the Treasury Board has the potential to delay or to outright disable the approval of study visas.  This means that for many international students who are banking on studying in Canada this fall may have their plan impacted.  Currently contingency plans are being put in place, but this will likely not be enough, if the dispute is not resolved quickly.  If this issue affects someone you know, or you are just downright passionate about it, what can you do?  Contact your friendly neighborhood VP External at su.external@uleth.ca or 403.329.2780, and together you and I can draft a response.  For more information, here is the full media release:

http://www.casa-acae.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/CASA-PR-Jul172013-Study-Permits-Final-1_PDF1.pdf

 

Stay classy.

Update on Recent Cuts and How it Affects The UofL

This year, the Post-Secondary Sector within Alberta faced drastic cuts to their operating budgets. One of the largest cuts to post-secondary education (PSE) in almost 20 years. The even more challenging aspect of these cuts was that there was little information communicated to the institutions during the Alberta Governments budget process. In 2012, Allison Redford promised the PSE sector a 2% increase for the next three years. This would allow for financial sustainability and long term planning for the 26 institutions in Alberta.

The University of Lethbridge had begun their budget process with this guarantee in mind. Even with the 2% increase the institution was going to face some cuts within the institution and as a result in October the Board of Governors approved an increase in the Student Services Fee. On March 7th, The Alberta Government announced there annual budget. They had made a drastic cut to PSE. The University of Lethbridge alone would be facing a 7.3% cut to the operating grant. With this cut added on top of the amount the UofL already had to cut this resulted in 11.9 million dollars of ongoing funding that needed to be reduced.

Allison Redford made the promise that this cut “Would not fall on the backs of Students” and announced a tuition freeze for the 2012-2013 year. Unfortunately, there are still no regulations on Mandatory Non-Instructional Fees (our Student Service Fee), which leaves a large opportunity for institutions to utilize these fees as back-door tuition.

The University of Lethbridge recently announced how they would be dealing with the budget reductions after establishing the core values of the institution. Reductions were made across campus. This is going to affect every single student within our institution. Faculty have been reduced through a voluntary retirement program most of which will not  be replaced because of the cuts resulting in a decrease of Quality of Education because of the increase of student to faculty ratio.

Student will also face an increase in financial barriers as a result of a 300% increase to the Student Services Fee from 2012-2013. Students will now be paying $37.50 per course vs. the previous $12.50 per course. This may not seem significant, but if you are a full-time student with a full course load (10 Courses) you will be paying $375.00 this upcoming year.

It becomes even more detrimental for our international students on campus. The international student differential is increasing from 2.26x a domestic student to 3x a domestic student. This will add thousands of dollars to the cost of their education. Fortunately, this increase will be grandfathered in and won’t be affecting current international student, but it is bound to have a significant affects on prospective international students.

You can find the International Students’ Association Response Here.

_______

Shuna Talbot- President

2013-14 ULSU Election Candidates

  • The list of candidates with bios will be uploaded to ulsu.ca as that information is submitted by the candidates here
  • All videos from town halls and debates can be found on our VIMEO page here (*note: candidates are spread out over two town halls, some positions with multiple candidates running may be split over the two days)
  • The campaign period has ended and Facebook pages are no longer active

President (1)
Shuna Talbot

VP Academic (1)
Katie Kalmar

VP External (1)
Sean Glydon
Emma Ladouceur
Jiyun Kim

VP Operations and Finance (1)
Michael Kawchuk

VP Student Affairs (1)
Adam Long

Arts and Science Reps (6)
Melissa Bond
Quinton Flint
Dee Goyal
Lisa Hildebrand
Brandon McNally
Bailey Mullen
Brenna Scott
Charlie Smith
Megan Sutherland
Victoria Wells

Education Rep (1)
Nigel Peters

Fine Arts Rep (1)
Benjamin Goodwin

Management Rep (1)
Tye Cusack
Shelby Flath

Health Sciences Rep (1)
No Candidates (by-election to be held September 2013)

First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Rep (1)
Preston Crow Chief
Ashley Huntley

International Students Rep (1)
Avro Mazumder

Residence Rep / ORS President (1)
Jesse Baker

Board of Govenors Rep (1)
Chris Hollingsworth
Rebecca Joseph
Alanna Shockley

Calgary Campus Rep (1)
Shelley Qian
Jeremy Villas

Edmonton Campus Rep (1)
Shashikant Ghai