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GSA conducts campus-wide survey to better understand food and housing insecurity among students

By Julieanne Acosta with files from Nazeefa Ahmed, March 21 2024—

The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) is conducting an online student-led survey about food and housing insecurity among University of Calgary students in order to better advocate for the needs of the campus community. In an interview with the Gauntlet, A.C. Cameron, the vice president external of the GSA elaborated on this survey and how he hopes to help with this current issue. 

“I’ve been a grad student about seven years and just trying to afford food has been a persistent challenge. So I wanted to do something within the role and use the resources and kind of the framework and the base of the association to tackle this issue. But, in a strategic way, so by and large we were already looking to do action towards improving students’ food security because you know the hungry student trope.”

“We understand that food and housing is a big issue. The tagline that we’ve been working with has been that I can skip lunch but I can’t skip rent,” Cameron continued. “We wanted to tackle them at the same time and understand better how people were dealing with their experiences in one camp or the other.” 

After securing funding for this project, Cameron notes that they were able to delve into research surrounding this topic to develop the survey. 

“We got some funding to hire two grad students to help us develop the survey based on literature that was out there,” he said.

Cameron further expanded that the survey seeks to better understand the student experience by not just looking for the rates of food or housing insecurity but also how students are dealing with this issue. 

“We don’t want to just know how many students are hungry, but how they’re dealing with being hungry. So we added questions about their cooking habits, living habits, trying to get a better sense of how students are dealing with this high cost of living.” 

After students complete this 20 to 30 minute survey, the results will help the GSA to be better informed of the student experience and will be used in different conversations within the university. 

“My goal is to take [the results] to anybody and everybody who will listen,” he said. “My goal is to have this ready by the end of the term so I can give it to my successors so that they can take it into the next round of tuition and fees consultations. They can take it into the negotiations within the food hub.” 

To participate in the survey, please visit this page. To learn more about the GSA, please visit their website

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