Can you believe we’re already five weeks into the semester? I hope you’re all settling into your classes in this new environment, and finding ways to connect with friends and new opportunities.
Of course, this year has brought many challenges that we’ve never had to face before. I am truly grateful for the team around me, every single student who contacts us about important issues, and all the student groups, boards and partners that are working hard to ensure that our campus community is the best it can be today, while planning for a sustainable future.
One of UASU’s priorities for this unprecedented year has been ensuring that our space, services, and businesses remain accessible for our students. Social distancing measures and mask requirements keep the Students’ Union Building publicly accessible. Many of SUB’s businesses and services (including the Health Centre and pharmacy, Campus Food Bank, food court, convenience store, and print shop) are operating in person with safety precautions. Other services, like the Peer Support Centre and The Landing, continue to operate virtually.
UASU Executive Goals
This summer, our team finalized our 2020/2021 Executive Goals. This document will guide our work for the remainder of our term. We organized our priorities under five themes:
- Empower Students to Lead
- Secure a Strong Future for Students
- Break Down Barriers
- Ensure a High-Quality University Experience
- Build a Better Campus Community
As many of you are aware, academic restructuring is an important topic right now, and you should take a look at the proposed future models here if you haven’t yet. University is about building skills and knowledge to prepare for the future. Decisions about academic restructuring must include the voices of people who will be impacted the most. As the only undergraduate student member of the Academic Restructuring Working Group (ARWG), I am committed to championing student feedback to the working group. If you have ideas or concerns, you can always contact me directly.
Campus Sexual Violence
It’s a myth that campus sexual violence stops being an issue simply because fewer students are on campus. Whether you know it or not, it’s likely that you or someone close to you has experienced Campus Sexual Violence—sexual violence that in some way is connected to the campus community or stems from academic relationships. Our goal is multi-faceted, overdue structural change. Every single one of your UASU Executives is working toward this goal.
Changes to Post Secondary Education in Alberta
The provincial government decided to conduct a system-wide review of post-secondary education in Alberta this year. That means our advocacy work at that level of government has become even more critical than usual. Your UASU is actively engaging in the process at several levels, including representation at the province’s Guiding Coalition of Stakeholders.
Our provincial advocacy partner is the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS). Both CAUS and UASU have submitted recommendations and research to the provincial review process. If you’re interested, you can read the Students’ Union’s submission here. We hope the review provides the government with fair, concrete recommendations to improve value, accessibility, and support for students. We hope the government will allocate appropriate resources and change direction to follow the evidence. CAUS and UASU are committed to ensuring that students’ voices are heard during this process, and holding the government to account if they fail to listen and act.
October is Sustainability Month at the UASU
Just to be clear, it’s always sustainability month at the UASU. You might know about Sustain SU, which facilitates small- and large-scale sustainable initiatives on campus, from advocating for a 100% compostable food court to advising projects like the Sustainability & Capital Fund. But we take sustainable businesses and initiatives even further: all UASU businesses—from the Daily Grind to Dewey’s—and several SUB tenants have been rated as the most sustainable spaces on campus. This month, make sure to support your favourite sustainable businesses, learn about sustainability on campus, or consider getting involved at Sustain SU.
My fall harvest!
Nothing says fall like a good harvest. Gardening is one of my favourite ways to de-stress after long days spent representing student interests—academic restructuring, COVID-19 support, tuition and U-Pass advocacy, working with MLAs and provincial partners on campus sexual violence prevention, and so much more. It’s a lot, and it’s important work. But it felt really satisfying to spend a beautiful fall day harvesting my potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes before putting it all together in a delicious stew.
I hope some of you are also enjoying some of your own fall harvests and looking forward to the rest of fall, even though it’s a busy time of year for all of us. Thank you for being alongside me in this journey—we’re in this together.
President, University of Alberta Students’ Union
p: 780 492-4241