Dear Students,

My time at the University of Alberta and the UASU has come to a close. It’s hard for me to say goodbye to the people who have made my life so rewarding these last two years, but I am excited to see new leaders stepping up with new ideas. I want to deeply thank all of you who have supported the UASU and the UAlberta community as we fought through two of the hardest years in the U of A’s history.

We heard from so many students throughout the year and deeply appreciate your feedback. Your voices allowed us to champion and advocate for emerging student needs, and helped us amplify our priorities to the University, our new municipal leaders, and to both the provincial and federal governments.

We’ve done our best to live by our UASU values by doing what’s right - not what’s easy - and acting with compassion. We have:

  • Fought hard and won safe classrooms in Fall 2021, including mask and vaccine mandates that protected the health and safety of the most vulnerable.
  • Acted fast to push the University for commitments as the Omicron variant loomed over Winter 2022, securing much-needed certainty for students.
  • Held our first campus-wide pronoun campaign reaching tens of thousands of students to help encourage respect for all, regardless of gender expression.
  • Hosted a renewed Indigenous Celebration Week to continue our support of the Indigenous campus community
  • Secured a 25% rebate on the U-Pass this Winter, helping students in a time of financial hardship.

Even as we’ve been faced with many difficulties, we’ve never stopped thinking about our values– inspiring change for the world, always moving and planning for the future. I believe that better days are ahead for our community, and we’ve worked to make them a reality:

  • We successfully passed Exploration Credits into University policy, giving students the opportunity to take up to four electives in their degree on a credit-no credit basis. Now students can explore new ideas without worrying about their GPA– because that is what university should be about.
  • We forced the University to confront the epidemic of campus sexual violence, even leading a student walkout to shut down the General Faculties Council. We finally secured the hiring of the Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator after five years of advocacy, because no student should ever face sexual violence on our campus.
  • We made campus more welcoming to students of all backgrounds with a new multi-faith space in the Mechanical Engineering building (MEC), and a family lounge opening in Rutherford Library in Fall 2022.
  • Supported the courageous work of the Association des Universitaires de la Faculté Saint-Jean in a successful fight for sustainable funding for their campus.

We stood up to the University and provincial government’s assault on affordable education. This work is not done, and our next Exec team will have to continue the fight for fair tuition and student aid. I know Abner’s team, and I know the incoming Exec are more than equal to the challenge. They’ll be building on what we started:

  • We got the University’s drastic exceptional increase proposals sent back to the drawing board, and our student advocacy saved students at least $2.7 million per year compared to the original proposals.
  • Hundreds of instructors have now joined our Zero Textbook Cost pilot project. This year alone, we estimate the program has saved students from all UA campuses $9 million.
  • We convinced the Alberta government to raise the student loan limit, and the fight for affordable education continues to make sure future students don’t need to borrow so much in the first place.
  • We held protests at the Alberta Legislature and drew massive media attention to the financial struggle that students are facing from exceptional tuition increases, and the effects of deep provincial budget cuts to the University.

I’m so proud of my Executive team and amazing UASU staff who worked hard to make this campus better in every way they could. Student voices make a difference and we are strong when we stand together. The work of rebuilding our community after the last two years will be hard, but I know students will keep rising to the challenge.

Thank you for the honour of serving as your President this year.

Rowan Ley
University of Alberta Students’ Union President

Here are just a few wins from your 2021/22 UASU Executive Team:

  • Coming in Fall 2022:
  • The Zero Textbook Cost Pilot Project saved students an estimated $9 million this year!
  • The Violet King Award was created as a $1,000 leadership award in honour of Violet King for Black Student Leadership and Involvement
  • Secured $25,000 in funding for Indigenous Celebration Week in collaboration with community partners to plan the event.
  • A new prayer, meditation, reflection and smudging space was established in the Mechanical Engineering Building (MEC).
  • Campus Sexual Violence Prevention:
    • UAlberta hired a Sexual Violence Response Coordinator.
    • Future Residence Assistants (RAs) and students in residence will receive improved sexual violence prevention training.
    • The U of A committed to creating training on sexual violence prevention for all students at U of A, reviewing all sexual violence prevention and response policies by end of year, and providing all resources in French.
    • Advanced Education committed to investing $2.5 million to help encourage safety in campus communities.
  • Supported the Association des universitaires de la faculté Saint-Jean (AUFSJ) to secure $13.4 million of overdue funding for Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) from the Government of Canada.
  • U-Pass
    • Price freeze for four years
    • Expanded service to Beaumont
    • Partial Winter 2022 refund saving UA students a total of $2 million, and other Edmonton area students an additional $3 million.
  • Advocacy against Exceptional Tuition Increase (ETIs) will save students an estimated $2.7 million per year compared to the original proposals.
  • Provided thousands of free menstrual products in the Students’ Union Building (SUB) as part of the Period Equity pilot project and expanded to four dispensers in the Van Vliet Centre and one at Campus Saint-Jean.
  • Distributed over $10,000 as part of the Sustainability & Capital Fund to student projects.
  • Student Rights Info Campaign highlighted students’ rights around access to exam materials, procedural fairness, and accommodations.
    • The Charter of Students Rights is now available on E-Class under Student Resources.
  • The first-ever Pronoun Campaign at the U of A reached thousands of students and hundreds of teachers in an effort to promote inclusivity on campus.
  • The first-ever Student Representative Associations (SRA) Summit brought together student leaders from every student association to tackle isolation, loneliness, and mental health challenges on campus.
  • The UASU Perks app was harnessed to assess, report and act on emerging student issues in real-time, highlight trends and give out prizes.
    • Your voice was heard on subjects like COVID testing, quality of education, financial, mental and physical impacts of the pandemic, and student wellness. You can read more of our published reports here.