SAITSA is advocating for you
This is an exciting time for advocacy here at SAITSA. As I write this article, I am with my fellow student delegates of the Canadian Alliance of Students Associations (CASA), in Ottawa, training for what we call Advocacy Week.
For those who aren’t involved in our advocacy efforts, or haven’t been stuck listening to me rant, I’d like to explain what CASA is and how SAITSA lobbies on your behalf to the federal government.
CASA is our federal lobby group, which represents the voices of over 255,000 students in Canada, from universities, colleges and polytechnics.
Advocacy Week is a special time that happens once a year when student leaders from across Canada meet in Ottawa at parliament to present our priorities to Members of Parliament, Senators and bureaucrats.
Advocacy Week is our Grey Cup (which coincidentally took place in the same week and city. Stamps fans, I was just as disappointed as you were).
This year, we have a lot of great priorities that I can’t wait to present. Many of these affect your life as a student here at SAIT, and I would like to take this time to share some of these.
First of all, let’s talk about something we all care about: the high cost of textbooks.
Even in 2017, we almost solely rely on paper copy of educational materials that cost students an arm and a leg to succeed in class. Luckily, we have a three word solution: open educational resources (OERs).
OERs are learning materials that are free for use and re-purpose and come in the form of textbooks, lesson plans, lecture notes, software or other course tools.
These are not only beneficial to students, and but also to instructors, who can use these materials to adjust their course content. This gives us all intellectual flexibility and freedom.
CASA is asking the federal government to provide funding to graduate students and faculty to develop OERs. SAIT’s Academic Council has a subcommittee dedicated to the support and development of OERs, so this additional funding would help move things along.
Another ask that I would like to share with you, is the adjustment to international students’ study permits to allow internship and co-op opportunities.
As of right now, international students’ are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week, but are prohibited from participating in internships unless they are granted a work permit, which only stays valid for one year.
This makes it hard for Canada to retain their talent and skills upon graduation, and prevents international students from contributing to our economy.
Finally, CASA would like to see students with disabilities better supported financially through the Canada Student Grant Program. While there is a grant available for students with permanent disabilities, students with episodic or short-term disabilities are ineligible to apply for this funding.
These students face additional barriers, because they often spend more time in school, make less money annually and spend money on aid equipment due to their disability.
CASA is advocating for a review on the definition of “permanent disability” in regards to this grant, as well as a 50 per cent increase in funds to match the increases that were made to other Canada Student Grants in 2016 and 2017.
These are just three of our six unique priorities that address the concerns of students from every walk of life. If you’d like to get more information, please visit www.casa-acae.com/building_access_building_canada to see our full priorities document.
I’d love to hear back from you. Do these priorities align with your own? Do you strongly agree or disagree? Your opinion matters to me.
By the time this is published, I will be back home in Calgary, so please feel free to send me an email at email@example.com or swing by my office to discuss any of these priorities.
You can also come to share your sorrow for the Stamp’s loss — I’m here for you.