Admin/SU united front "empowers"

University of Calgary students may not need to worry about skyrocketing tuition with a new proposal the university is planning.

The provincial government recently announced a $1.9 billion surplus in the provincial budget and U of C Administration and the Students’ Union are working together to lobby the government for more money.

According to U of C Vice-President Academic Ron Bond, the university is lobbying the government on issues significant to faculty, staff, students and public.

"We are constantly trying to improve the educational and research programs of the U of C," he said. "And to do that we have to persuade the government to look at our data, listen to our stories about campus life, and acknowledge and address the challenges we are facing here."

The lobbying will be done in two ways.

"One part will be done through a series of joint proposals to the government followed by joint face-to-face meetings," said SU President Rob South. "The other part of the effort is generating media attention through sharing information and collaborating on various communications plans and press releases."

In addition to the two parts of the lobbying, this proposal will also have two phases.

"The first phase is particularly student-focused, as it will be asking the government to increase base operating funding and student bursaries," said South. "The second phase is also concerned with on going funding. Both the SU and Administration are concerned about the needs of other groups like faculty and staff; this second phase will empower Administration to deal with some of these issues."

According to South, the endeavour began two weeks ago with a SU press release on how the surplus should be spent.

"You can expect the project to intensify in the next couple of months with several meetings with government officials," he added. "There will be a review period for the project some time early next year. If both organizations have found the effort was productive it will likely continue."

The University has specified a number of issues for the government to address that will impact students. Bond listed increasing tuition fees, larger class sizes, difficulties in recruitment and retention of faculty members.

Bond also emphasized the importance of collaboration with the SU in that the students and the Board of Governors will be working together to present the same message to the government.

Some students may find the Administration’s joint venture with the SU surprising in light of last year’s tuition conflict.

"The administration very much regrets the tensions that developed last year, but has been pleased at the improvement of the relationship between the administration and students that has occurred this year," said Bond. "Collaborating on this joint campaign over the summer has been helpful in restoring a good working relationship, even though we realize… we may see things differently from time to time and may need to part company on some issues."

South agrees with Bond that neither the SU nor Administration will be compromised.

"By forming this joint relationship with the Administration the SU is being empowered," said South. "This joint initiative does not mean that student voice will be stifled to administration, it simply means the student voice will be better heard by the government. By sending a joint message to the government, it is much clearer to the ministry what action should be taken to enable students and the university to prosper."


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