Town Hall Series: What you need to know

Categories: Representation

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On January 23rd and March 13th this semester, SAMRU will host two Town Hall events in collaboration with MRU’s senior administration to provide students a forum to discuss issues relating to post-secondary education. These events will provide students with a forum to engage with campus leaders on issues such as:

  • Cannabis
  • Old library space
  • Sexual violence
  • Post Secondary Learning Act changes
  • Provincial election

Read below to learn the history and latest updates on the issues that will be discussed.

January 23, 2019 Town Hall

PANELISTS: DAVID DOCHERTY (MRU PRESIDENT), ANDREW NGUYEN (SAMRU PRESIDENT), STEVE FITTERER (MRU VP STUDENT AFFAIRS), & SHAYLA BREEN (SAMRU VP STUDENT AFFAIRS)

Cannabis

Read SAMRU’s full statement here. Since legalization, October 17, 2018, Mount Royal has complied with the City of Calgary’s bylaw prohibiting public consumption of cannabis. SAMRU believes that the City of Calgary, and MRU by extension, should be pursuing a harm reduction approach to educate students about the potential risks associated with using cannabis. As student safety is our primary concern, education, destigmatization, and safe areas for consumption are our top priorities for cannabis use. We believe that Mount Royal University should apply for and be granted an exemption from the City of Calgary bylaws to allow for a designated cannabis area so that we can promote harm reduction on campus, as we do with alcohol. Mount Royal supports SAMRU in this initiative.

Old Library Space

$63 million is needed to renovate the old library space. Mount Royal has a Campus Master Plan that demonstrates their plan for the old library space. The intention for this space is to create a “student-centred space” where campus services are consolidated. The space had been temporarily used as the Campus Bookstore in Fall 2018 while the original bookstore was being renovated. Now that the old bookstore has reopened, there are no plans to use the space on a temporary basis for anything else due to the cost of keeping that space open.

We are hopeful that in the next provincial budget we will see funds allocated to fully renovating this space for students and SAMRU will continue to advocate to the government during this time. Until then, SAMRU is working with Mount Royal to keep students informed of its progress through campus outreach.

Sexual Violence

Mount Royal developed their first Sexual Violence Policy in 2017 at the request of the Minister of Advanced Education for Alberta. All universities in Alberta were required to create a policy that also allowed for the collection of reported incident data. Though the foundation has been set for Mount Royal’s Sexual Violence policy, SAMRU believes it doesn’t address all the issues; more work needs to be done to implement the policy on campus as well as provide support services for survivors. The department of Campus Equity and Meaningful Inclusion hired a Sexual Violence Response & Awareness Coordinator to their staff to help implement this policy. However, SAMRU believes one staff member is not enough to meet the needs of the student body.

Other important facts:

  • 1 in 5 women report experiencing sexual violence on campus during their studies. 1 in 6 men will experience sex violence in their lifetime. (Source)
  • Indigenous women are three times as likely to be victims of violence than non-Indigenous women. (Source)
  • In a 2016 survey done by the National College Health Assessment (NCHA), 1 in 3 Mount Royal students have experienced violence in one or more relationships. (Source)

March 13, 2019 Town Hall

PANELISTS: DAVID DOCHERTY (MRU PRESIDENT), ANDREW NGUYEN (SAMRU PRESIDENT), PAUL ROSSMAN (MRU VP UNIVERSITY ADVANCEMENT), & AMANDA LEBLANC (SAMRU VP EXTERNAL)

Post Secondary Learning Act (PSLA) Changes, Bill 19, and Tuition/Fees

The Provincial government’s Bill 19, allows for more affordability and accessibility to post secondary students in terms of tuition and fees. The bill regulates tuition so institutions can no longer hike tuition at will and caps it at the Consumer Price Index (roughly 2%). Should the university attempt to increase tuition more than inflation annually, the Student Board of Governors have to vote in favour of the increase for it to be approved by the Minister of Advanced Education and implemented. There will be a fifth and final year of tuition freeze for the 2019/2020 year. SAMRU is hopeful that the university will receive backfill funding from the government to cover the lost revenue of a tuition increase.

International students will also benefit from this legislation as they will not be subjected to unpredictable annual tuition increases; Prospective students will know what their full degree will cost at the onset. Institutions are no longer allowed to arbitrarily increase tuition after the student has started their program. This does not apply to international students who are already enrolled, only to prospective students.

Any new mandatory non-instructional fees will have to be presented to both the institution and to students with the benefits it will bring to the program. It cannot be revenue generating and must be specific to a transparent outcome. SAMRU fees are not included in mandatory non-instructional fees.

Under previous legislation, the MRU Board of Directors only had one student, the SAMRU President, sit on its board. Under the new PSLA, two students will be able to sit on the Board of Directors. The SAMRU VP Student Affairs will sit in this second seat for a period of two years, subject to the evaluation of the Student Governing Board, after which the position may be opened to another student from the general student population.

Provincial Election

The 2019 Get Out the Vote campaign launches January 18th! SAMRU representatives and volunteers will be out and about collecting voter pledges for the upcoming Provincial election on campus. Students who pledge to vote, are consenting to receive information regarding advance polls on campus, election dates, and any important information pertaining to the Provincial election. This campaign is non-partisan and we want students from all political stripes to pledge to vote in the election. You can check out what the Council of Alberta University Students’ election priorities are here.

 

Question still not answered? Submit your question(s) in advance to be answered at the Town Hall by clicking here. Your question will be read at the Town Hall whose topic(s) match the nature of the question.