Student advocacy could be considered an inseparable part of the post-secondary experience. Whether it is fighting for lower tuition, or showing support for a good cause, students can be one of the most vocal segments of the population. It comes as no surprise then, that there are rumours of a new student advocacy group forming in Edmonton, aptly named the Edmonton Students’ Association.
The Edmonton Student Alliance will be formed from the student executives of all post-secondary institutions with a campus located in Edmonton. This moves away from the traditional divide that currently exists between institutions, as there are currently two provincial student lobby groups. The current student lobby groups, the Council of Alberta University Students, and Alberta Students’ Executive Council, have traditionally represented students attending universities, and colleges and polytechnics respectively. This new group would remove those barriers and allow the students’ associations for all Edmonton post-secondary institutions to work together on projects and causes that affect all post-secondary students in Edmonton.
“This will be more of a framework set for future executives to follow. It unites all of the Student Associations and Student Unions in Edmonton,” said NAITSA President Hasib Baig.
This isn’t the first time an initiative has tried to build a connection among Edmonton post-secondary institutions, however. Reportedly, there have been attempts in the past to remove institutional barriers, most recently in the form of the Edmonton Federation of Students. Since there appears to be no traces of that organization online, we can safely assume that initiative did not succeed. However, with a charter and framework already in place, it would appear the new Edmonton Students’ Association has started off on a strong footing.
With the entrance of another advocacy group for students, will there be a risk of too much noise on the student level?
“No, because our provincial group deals more with provincial issues, while this will be focusing on municipal issues,” said Baig.
This is a sentiment echoed by NAITSA VP External Justin Nand, who explained, “With two provincial lobbying groups, who don’t have a history of collaboration, this is a step in the right direction.”
With NAITSA executives in support of this new association, it may give NAIT students an extra voice when dealing with municipal issues, including the long-troubled NAIT Metro LRT line. This new organization has the added bonus of giving Edmonton students an additional voice at no extra cost – the organization will not require a membership fee from students’ associations or have a budget, rather, it will allow individual members to allocate resources toward projects as they see fit.
One thing is certain, though – improving students’ ability to be represented to institutions and to government is always a worthy goal. Perhaps we might even get a discount on our U-Pass next year.
By Nicolas Brown