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U of C Students’ Union joins municipal advocacy group Calgary Student Alliance

By Matty Hume, October 22 2017 —

At the Oct. 16 meeting of Students’ Legislative Council, elected representatives of the University of Calgary Students’ Union voted unanimously on the second reading to join the recently-formed Calgary Student Alliance (CSA). The CSA is a municipal advocacy group, with membership comprising of various students’ unions and associations from Calgary’s post-secondary institutions.

“For many years, a lot of students’ unions and students’ associations have partnered on many different issues. For example, secondary suites,” said SU president Sagar Grewal. “Oftentimes these partnerships come around during municipal election time as well, to kind of align what student priorities are in the city. For a while there has been some discussion about organizing this informal group that has created conversations on student priorities to form an organized body that can hopefully also outlast any single executives term.”

Before SLC approved the SU’s membership to the CSA, the advocacy group held their inaugural meeting to elect a chair and vice-chair. The chair of the CSA is Garrett Koehler, vice-president external of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Students’ Association. The vice-chair is Brit Paris, president of the U of C’s Graduate Students’ Association.

According to Grewal, each union or association in the CSA has a single vote within the organization.

“Each member association or union has one vote,” Grewal said. “Which we were glad of, because [when we considered joining the CSA], we didn’t have a VP external. Not to mention that the chair and vice-chair do not have votes for their institutions or associations or unions — their secondary delegate from the association or union would be voting.”

The CSA will elect new executives each June. As of right now, the SU is not considering candidacy at this time.

“I guess that’s a question for the [next SU] president and next SU executive team,” Grewal said.

Grewal and newly elected VP external Anayat Sidhu are the primary SU execs that will interact with the CSA. According to Grewal, CSA membership will help the SU accomplish their own municipal advocacy goals.

“A big part of our interaction with the CSA will be — being there now as a member at the table — to contribute our ideas and our thoughts on what municipal advocacy priorities should be for students that don’t just benefit our students, but rather all students, which is currently how our municipal priorities [are structured],” Grewal said. “None of our municipal priorities are ones that would not benefit others, so we thought it was a perfect fit.”

Grewal said the CSA is required to meet every two months.

“We’re hoping to meet a bit more frequently than that just to get everything off the ground and get people aligned,” he added.

The next CSA meeting is scheduled for the end of October. Grewal said he intends to report on all CSA activities at regular SLC meetings.

“I would say the best place to hear more about it would be asking myself and the VP external,” Grewal said. “I’ll make sure to report on all activity during our regular council meetings.”

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