SU to bus students to Edmonton

By Dean Hetherington

Although the school year isn’t over yet, the Students’ Union wants to take a road trip. On Thurs., April 6, the SU will charter a bus to Edmonton to protest the Alberta Government’s stance on post-secondary education funding.

"This year we decided the focus wouldn’t be on the Board of Governors," said SU Vice-president Operations and Finance Amanda Affonso. "Our goal is to lobby the government to show that students care about their education."

The week before the trip, the SU will hold various events about tuition increases and government funding. Information booths and kiosks will be set up in the MacEwan Student Centre North Courtyard.

"We’re going to try to have things like the climbing wall and the soup kitchen for that area," said President-elect and External Commissioner Toby White. "The Climb You’re Way Out of Tuition event went really well in the past."

The SU will also set up another tuition campout from Monday to Thursday of that week.

"Most of the events will occur two to three days before the trip," said Vice-president External-elect and External Commissioner Duncan Wojtaszek. "When we arrive in Edmonton, [Liberal education critic] Don Massey and Calgary [Varsity MLA] Murray Smith will be talking to us."

The SU hopes Learning Minister Lyle Oberg will be present.
"It’s our intention to meet him," said Wojtaszek. "But we have no idea what he’ll do. When we initially scheduled to have this event earlier he was going to be out of town."

The SU hopes the trip will affect the government’s mandate for the next year.

"There is an excellent chance there will be an election next year," said Wojtaszek. "We want to broadcast that most cutbacks that were made have been replaced except for tuition. Post-secondary institutions are still left in the cold."

The SU believes this trip is very important for students.

"It’s their education," said Affonso. "We wanted to make a shift away from the BoG to the government. The government controls the purse strings of universities."

Student reaction is mixed.

"I guess it’s good to show support for students," said First-year Physics student James Underwood. "But I don’t know if it will make a difference."

Some students feel the government will not listen.

"I don’t know if it will make a difference this year," said second-year Economics student Kyle Duncan. "If they [the SU] don’t do anything then there will be a maximum tuition increase every year. But they [the government] haven’t paid attention in the past, why would they start now?"

Despite worries, the SU says student response to the trip has been positive.

"Basically we have a group of students called The Friends of Get on the Bus who are helping to organize the trip," said White. "They came to us initially wanting to do this because they thought the protests from last year went very well. They also wanted to show government under-funding."

Interested students should apply to the SU offices in MSC 251 before the March 30 sign-up deadline.