[Re: “SU campout too in-tents,” letter, Oct. 26, 2006]
Last week Zelda Sun commented on the validity and potential for success of Tent City. The purpose of Tent City was to draw attention to student debt, poverty and the affordable and accessible housing crisis that is affecting all Albertans, but Calgary in particular. The provincial government has admitted they were unprepared for the population, housing and economic booms we are experiencing. Housing problems have sat on the back burner of the municipal and provincial agendas for so long that this crisis has become unmanageable. Students are being forced to band together to pay rents, living in places with too few rooms or in places that are far below living standards. Some are forced to live on friends’ couches or in their schools. In Calgary every night, over 1,000 children are forced to sleep in church basements because their families can’t afford a place to live.
It was indeed cold and it was a week filled with midterms. This only reinforced the message that something has to be done about these issues, especially because the cold is rolling in and too many are left without shelter to protect them.
Tent City and the other Political Action Week activities were extremely successful. They garnered an unprecedented amount of media attention, educated the public and forced mayor Dave Bronconnier to agree to create a plan of action. Provincial MLAs were on site throughout the event offering their support and over 100 undergrads, grads and community members came out to sleep on the cold ground to spread the message. Hundreds more campus community members stopped by to learn about the issues and what they could do to help. Since then, I have been contacted by community members offering up rooms and previously unavailable properties for rent at very reasonable rates (thank you!).
Though I understand and respect Zelda’s concerns, it is the Students’ Union’s job to create engaging and informative events that encourage student participation and education. If we are unable to engage people, it is our fault and never the fault of the busy, overwhelmed students.
A sincere thank you to all the participants, campers, volunteers and individuals who came by to sign a postcard, sign a brick for the wall of debt or to ask questions.
Students’ Union vice-president external