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U of C hosts student community discussion to hear student concerns

By Nazeefa Ahmed, October 25 2023—

On Oct. 11, the University of Calgary hosted a community discussion for students in the MacEwan Ballroom. The event was aimed at addressing concerns regarding affordability and the student experience. 

“Join us for an opportunity to share your thoughts, concerns and ideas with the UCalgary senior leadership team. This event is a chance for students to collaborate and share ideas about how to improve the campus experience, both now and in the future,” read a statement from the event registration page

The event was organized as multiple round table discussions with different focus topics such as tuition increases, teaching and learning, student experience and student well-being. Students were asked to share their thoughts on the respective topic while the discussion host wrote down their concerns on a paper pad. 

In a statement to the Gauntlet, Vice President Academic Penny Werthner hopes that the event encourages students to share their concerns and possible solutions to make tangible changes. 

“This event is to really give us an opportunity to have a dialogue with the students and to share ideas about how we can do things better. It’s only one of the ways we are engaging. We meet with the Students’ Union and Graduate Student Association regularly. The faculty members always meet with their students as well.”

This community discussion is part of a larger tuition consultation process leading up to a Board of Governors’ vote in December. Students’ Union (SU) President Shaziah Jinnah Morsette discussed how the consultation process was something that the SU advocated for to ensure that students’ voices are heard. 

“This is all a part of a consultation process that we advocated for to the university following last year’s tuition and fees debacle and within that, we really expressed how important it was to have meaningful conversations with students and to learn their needs so that those can be prioritized,” said Morsette. 

“What I am hoping to see come from today is listening and then taking it back in actionable ways. I think it has been fantastic to see the breakout setup because it gives students the ability to have discussions with folks from the theme. Hopefully, that also informs the ongoing tuition and feed consultation process as we will be looking to see the university report back to us on what they heard from students,” Morsette continued. 

In November 2022, the SU wrote to the advanced education minister for the U of C to stop the Board of Governors vote due to improper consultation, which violated the Tuition and Fees Regulation and Alberta Tuition Framework. U of C currently has a breakdown of the finances as well as annual reports and financial statements on the tuition and consultation fees website

Attendee Florence Landon wanted to learn more about why tuition has been increasing and believes that the provincial cuts are to blame. 

“I am interested to learn why tuition is increasing and what students can do about it, and what relation it has to provincial budgets and inflation,” said Landon. “From what I can see so far is that we need to regain the provincial cut from the government.”

Attendee Siraaj Shah described the issues he came to discuss at the event, such as affordability, housing and the recent message released by President Ed McCauley about the Israel and Palestine conflict. 

Photo by Daman Singh

“There is obviously a wide range of concerns we can discuss. Affordability is a huge issue for students, there is a huge housing crisis that students are facing and struggling with,” said Shah. “Currently, there is a difficult political situation around the world. It is necessary for the university to take a non-biased approach to these political issues and ensure that all students from all different walks of life in this difficult and testing time.”

More information about the tuition and fees consultation process as well as the student survey can be found on the U of C website.

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