Opinions & Features Workshop (Oct 26th)

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SLC votes to withdraw from the Council of Alberta University Students

By Luis Armando Diaz Sanchez, December 13 2021—

On Nov. 30, the Students Legislative Council (SLC) at the University of Calgary voted to formally withdraw as a member of the Council of Alberta University Students Executive (CAUS). 

All present members but two voted in the affirmative. The two remaining votes were abstentions.

The CAUS was first created in 1986 and represents the interests of over 140,000 undergraduate students from all the major universities in the province to members of the public, the government and other stakeholders to post-secondary education. This includes the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, MacEwan University and Athabasca University.

Nicole Schmidt, president of the Students’ Union (SU), indicated that SU dissatisfaction with CAUS’ performance dates back a number of years, and it has been revolving around what she describes as systemic and ongoing organizational or structural issues.

“For a number of years, the Students’ Union has not been satisfied with our investment in CAUS as an organization,” said Schmidt. “We are not seeing a return on the amount of money that we are paying to be a member.” 

She said the SU has tried to address and resolve the issues before but were unsuccessful in their efforts, which included an organizational review of CAUS in March 2021. However, the deadline to present the report was not met and it is still being expected at some point in January.  

“As a board member of CAUS I personally have lost confidence in the organization’s review process, the organization itself and its executive director,” Schmidt said. “I want to emphasize that the problems inside the organization are not in any way the fault of the students that make up the board. These have been recurring and systemic issues that are incredibly difficult to resolve in a one-year term on the board as a student.”

Schmidt also noted that they would need to pay little over $50,000 in membership fees this year, should the SU continue to be part of the organization. A termination notice of the membership agreement between the CAUS and the SU must be provided on or before April 1, to avoid incurring a membership charge for the upcoming cycle.

“I feel very strongly that we can do a lot better as a Student Union. As SU president I am confident that leaving CAUS is the best path forward. The SU is capable of running government relations and advocacy in house — and has successfully for years. I am also confident that those advocacy and government relations tasks would be done in a much more thoughtful and planned way than what we have experienced with CAUS,” Schmidt stressed.

The SU president indicated that should the issues regarding CAUS’ performance be resolved in the future, the SU would be able to rejoin the organization.

In the meantime, they will continue working with the other members of CAUS in matters of great importance to students like in previous months. An example of this would be during the exceptional tuition fees increases in which the SU worked side-by-side with the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union to request an extension to the Government of Alberta.

The SLC also voted unanimously to approve, in the first reading, the Health and Dental Plan Referenda questions, to be presented in the next SU general election in March.

The resolution states that “the Students’ Union seeks a clear directive from students to inform actions relating to the continued fiscal sustainability of the SU Health and Dental Plans,” as read by the SLC Speaker Rachel Cabalteja.

Further, it was announced that the vacating position of VP External will not be filled in the coming months. Schmidt and External Communications Specialist Mike Brown will take over the external advocacy duties for their time being.

To access and read SLC documents including the meeting minutes and further updates, visit the SLC webpage.


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