By Mary Chan
The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations welcomed two new schools into its fold last week as the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union and the Grant MacEwan College Students’ Association joined the national lobby group. The CASA Board of Directors accepted the U of L SU as a full member and the GMCSA as an associate member on May 24. The 16 member schools will vote to accept the board’s decision at CASA’s Annual General Meeting later this summer.
CASA National Director Mark Kissel was pleased with the two new members.
"[The University of Lethbridge] is wonderful to see," he said. "It will bring a stronger voice from the west. Grant MacEwan College is our second college. They’re going to bring that angle into the alliance."
The GMCSA, which joins Mount Royal College as the only other college association in CASA, will become an associate member, meaning it will not pay the full membership fee and cannot vote, though it can participate in discussions. The U of L became a full member after two years as an associate member.
According to U of L SU President Dezmond Belzeck, the decision to become a full member was based on more than simply being an associate member for two years.
"[CASA] provides plenty of opportunity for involvement in the process of policy formation and lobby campaign development," said Belzeck. "The group is effective in the manner in which it approaches the government. That is, CASA utilizes the proper channels in the effort to influence policy decisions."
The addition of the U of L could affect the Council of Alberta University Students, a provincial lobby group that includes many members of CASA, including the students’ unions of the universities of Alberta, Calgary and Lethbridge.
"It’ll ensure that all schools in Alberta are working towards a common goal on both levels of government," said U of C SU President Toby White.
Belzeck echoed White’s sentiments.
"The Students’ Union believes the members of CAUS will be able to better coordinate campaigns within the province," he said. "This is a result of intense involvement at the federal level."
White also believes the inclusion of two more Alberta schools will strengthen Alberta’s position on the federal lobby scene.
"It gives Alberta as a whole a louder voice in federal lobbying," he said. "We have a better chance of voices being heard and ideas of Alberta students being carried forth at a lobbying level."