CASA builds a wall

By Mary Chan

This is the brick house CASA built… and they’re taking it to the federal government. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, a national lobby group is currently looking for students to sign wallpaper as part of its Education Builds a Nation campaign.

"We have a ‘brick wall’ that will be set up and we’re asking students to sign the wall to help recognize that we need an increase in funding and education," said CASA Western Regional Director Ryan Marshall.

CASA members, including the University of Calgary Students’ Union, are preparing for the campaign by asking students to sign wallpaper that looks like a brick wall.

"We have a [wallpaper] roll of bricks," said SU External Commissioner Duncan Wojtaszek. "We have to get all those rolls signed."

CASA hopes to collect the wallpaper, build the wall, and present it to members of the federal government the week of October 18.

"We’re going to present the MP’s with these signatures and hopefully it will convince them to follow the four objectives the campaign suggests," said Wojtaszek.

CASA is making four recommendations in its campaign.
"Our four points are building knowledge through the elimination of GST on textbooks, building excellence through increased funding to universities and colleges, building futures through interest relief on student assistance and building a nation through the elimination of discriminatory interprovincial tuition fees," said Marshall.

U of C students will soon see SU commissioners wearing white plastic hard hats encouraging them to sign the wallpaper.

"The theme of the campaign is Education Builds a Nation, so the hard hats are symbolic," said SU External Commissioner Toby White. "The basic gist is that post-secondary education and access to post-secondary education benefits the nation as a whole. The hard hats and brick wallpaper all symbolize building a stronger country."

The timing of the campaign is also crucial.

"We want to start in October this year to catch the MP’s before the throne speech," said Wojtaszek, adding most governments don’t implement a policy if it’s not mentioned in the speech.

Both SU commissioners believe this campaign is realistic.

"It’s do-able," said Wojtaszek. "The federal government now has a surplus and it is within their capability to increase payments to provinces."

For Marshall, the key to the campaign lies in its ability to unite students.

"If people are repeating the same message, then the government will start to listen," he said, adding he hopes the campaign raises public awareness about students’ situations. "The more public support you have, that’s when the government really listens to you."