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BOD bids farewell to ASEC

Board voted to leave student lobby group to reduce financial strain

The SAITSA Board of Directors (BOD) voted to leave the Alberta Students Executive Council (ASEC) and become a probationary member on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

Mikayla Schaffer, SAITSA VP external, put forth a motion for SAITSA to become a probationary member of ASEC after a presentation on the role the organization plays for SAITSA.

Established in 1982, ASEC is a student lobby group that represents over 105,000 students from 16 post-secondary institutions across Alberta. Only colleges and polytechnics are eligible for membership.

Schaffer said that the move to become a probationary member of ASEC was motivated by SAITSA’s desire to have more control in pursuing issues that matter to students. 

The motion was unanimously passed.

Schaffer cited concerns over ASEC’s poor governance practices through the use of multiple bylaws, the continuous turn over of student leadership making the lobby group inconsistent and the lack of transparency in the budget for members.

Kelsea Gillespie, ASEC chair, spoke to the BOD, expressing concerns over maintaining the voices of Alberta students should ASEC lose funding or dissolve as a result of SAITSA and other student governments leaving the organization.

However, SAITSA’s concerns over remaining a member of ASEC were financial.

ASEC has revenue of approximately $136,000, and SAITSA becoming a probationary member will affect the lobby’s bottom line, as SAIT students have been contributing $30,000 a year as a full member.

By becoming a probationary member, SAIT will pay $15,000 to $17,000 annually and still maintain the right to vote in the group.

“We can put the money to better use,” said Schaffer.

“Our responsibly is not to ASEC’s financial sustainability, it’s to our students and the money that they pay,” said Schaffer.

Concerns were raised that by leaving ASEC, SAITSA would lose the ability to lobby at the provincial level.

“ASEC gives us access to people in Edmonton.

“Gar [Gar, SAITSA president] and I have had multiple meetings with Calgary MLA’s. They’re very eager to talk. This government is very open to student leaders.”

Red Deer College and Lethbridge College, among others, have also made motions to leave ASEC.

SAITSA has spoken with NAITSA and Red Deer College about the potential to form a new provincial student lobby group.

“We need more direction from students about what to talk about to the government, we have a broader ability to advocate now,” said Schaffer.

SAITSA sent a letter to ASEC to inform the organization of their intent to become a probationary member.

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