February 2021 Advocacy Updates

The month of February was a busy one for GSA and its advocacy team!

At the Institutional level

As an ongoing effort to support student wellness and mental health, the GSA advocated for a flexible grading system. Graduate students can either accept their grade or opt for CR (completed requirements) for one course completed in Winter 2021. Please note that students can only request for CR for a course in which they receive a final grade of B- or higher. While this is temporary, the GSA is advocating for a formalized policy in place for the spring semester.

The GSA has been relentlessly advocating for affordable access to city transit especially during the pandemic. This past month, the Advocacy team met with the University of Calgary Parking and Transportation Services and lobbied for extending the low-income transit pass program for the Spring /Summer term. The UPASS program remains suspended and students will not be charged for UPASS fees. Additionally, Calgary Transit is launching a pilot program for University of Calgary students in the next semester. Stay tuned for more updates.  

University of Calgary President and Vice-Chancellor Ed McCauley launched the Unstoppable: Growth through Focus congress on February 10. The GSA actively participated in all the consultation sessions and highlighted student perspectives on some of the strategies proposed. If you are interested in submitting feedback and sharing your insights, visit the Congress page on University of Calgary website. There will be more opportunities to participate in consultations in the future.

At the Provincial level

The GSA has been in regular contact with the Ministry of Advanced Education with regards to Alberta 2030, which is a provincial government initiative that aims to transform the post-secondary education learning system in Alberta.

This past week, the GSA Executive Board was thrilled to meet the Minister of Advanced Education. The student leaders raised concerns for healthcare students working in Foothills who are in close proximity to Covid-19 patients. The GSA asked for more clarity on this issue, specifically for students who are not healthcare students but still work in hospitals. We got an official statement: “After a careful review of the student context, guiding principles and vaccine supply, it was decided that while students are key to Alberta’s future success they will not be sequenced ahead of healthcare workers currently working in the Phase 1 care areas”. We are disappointed to hear that students are currently not eligible and we will be monitoring updates on vaccine rollouts pertaining to students.

Read more about GSA’s involvement in the Alberta 2030 process here: https://gsa.ucalgary.ca/letter-from-ab-gpac-with-updates-on-alberta-2030/ .

The annual provincial budget was released on February 25 and we are disappointed to see cuts from the Campus Alberta Grant while the government simultaneously raises tuition. The team is working closely with its stakeholders to collectively evaluate implications of this budget. To read more about the budgets, click here.

At the Municipal level

The GSA teamed up with Bike Calgary and co-signed a letter that was sent to the Mayor and City of Calgary Counsellors. This effort was put together to advocate for lower residential speed limit in order to reduce fatalities, injuries, collision as well as costs associated with emergency response and traffic congestion. The City Council voted YES, as a result, the residential speed limit decreased from 50km/h to 40km/h.

The GSA continued to work closely with the Calgary Student Alliance to bring affordable UPASS and get out the vote campaign for the upcoming municipal election. The GSA hopes to increase civic awareness and promote civic engagement by highlighting why it’s important to vote.

At the Federal level

As a member of the National Advocacy Committee of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), we have launched the annual national advocacy campaign, titled #CloseTheGaps. This is a digital campaign that will allow graduate students to share what are the challenges, or “gaps”, they face in their education. The Executive Board shared their challenges and we encourage you to share your challenges and barriers that you may face in your educational careers. https://gsa.ucalgary.ca/closethegaps/

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