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“The budget should not be balanced on the backs of students”: SU appeals to student body for support

By Kristy Koehler, October 30 2019—

Last night at the weekly Students’ Legislative Council meeting, Students’ Union president Jessica Revington and vice-president external Sadiya Nazir gave a presentation on the new Alberta budget and its impacts on post-secondary funding. 

Students sat in the gallery — not a normal occurrence — and asked questions, aired their concerns and gave feedback. It was clear, according to Revington, that the changes made to the budget are of grave concern to the student population.

She and Nazir appealed to the students in the gallery to get involved and to tell their friends and family members in the community the ways in which this budget will impact them. Revington said she’d love nothing more than to walk into her next meeting with government and university officials with 300 letters about what hardships students will face if there are any increases to fees or elimination of programs.

Revington says the feedback received from the gallery was fantastic and that the SU executive team is taking it all into consideration.

“Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be developing a comprehensive strategic plan to address the budget moving forward,” she said. 

After their strategic direction is put in place, Revington says the SU will be working to mobilize students. In a conversation with the Gauntlet this morning, she echoed her sentiments from last night’s meeting — students need to get involved and help the SU with their advocacy.

“We feel that over the next couple of weeks, as we develop our strategic direction, it will become very, very clear to students and to the campus community what our stance is on the budget and on tuition increases, and we hope that students will join us as we take direct action to address what’s happened,” she said.

Where that advocacy will be directed will be two-fold. The University of Calgary has yet to decide what steps they will take to address the shortfall in the Campus Alberta Grant and have not announced any tuition hikes. 

“It’s also important to recognize the context in which all of this is happening,” said Revington. “The budget came out less than six days ago. We are still finding out new information every single day about the budget and what it means for students — and the university is as well.

“We’re looking at a two-pronged approach that addresses what the government has outlined in the budget but also addresses the fact that the university has some tough decisions to make — but the university’s budget should not be balanced on the backs of students.”

Revington wants students to understand that, while the Students’ Union represents students, they are also students and the budget impacts the executive team and councillors as well. 

In the coming days, the SU will be working on templates for students who want to write letters to their MLAs and members of the university administration. Revington recommends emailing Nazir with feedback if students have concerns they would like to state right away. Her contact information is available on the SU’s website.

“Students can also email me and call me,” said Revington. “My inbox and my phone are open and regardless of what students think, I want to hear what they think.”

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