By Eryn Pinksen
Hundreds of students, instructors and supporters attended the Students Not Silent March on Monday November 18.
The march was hosted in alliance by the MacEwan University Students’ Association (SAMU) and the University of Alberta’s Students Union (UASU).
“I’m pissed about this budget and I hope you are too,” said Adam Brown, UASU VP External, at the protest.
“Students Not Silent!” “Not on our backs!” and “Fix the budget!” were the chants ringing loud on the steps of the Legislature. The student voices fought over the sound of Christmas bells ringing from the building when the protest began.
Students and student representatives made speeches on the steps about the significant impact this budget is having on them.
“We need to demand that the Government of Alberta break down barriers to an accessible and affordable education instead of building bigger ones,” said Akanksha Bhatnagar, UASU President, in her speech at the protest.
A few student testimonials explained that they were in fear of being unable to afford their education. They also expressed concerns about the difficulty to repay the loans, that they said will be necessary to fund their tuition, due to the interest hike for loan repayment.
Both SAMU and UASU requested that students send them letters of how the budget will influence individual students, which they delivered to the Minister of Advanced Education, Demetrios Nicolaides.
SAMU and UASU executives met with Minister Nicolaides earlier that morning to express their concerns about the budget.
Representatives from the UASU, the Association of Academic Staff, the Graduate Students’ Association and the Non-Academic Staff Association released a joint statement with their concern about the cuts coming to the University of Alberta.
“University of Alberta students, faculty and staff will not sit silently while this budget takes effect, particularly on those most vulnerable members of our community. At every opportunity we will stand up for our colleagues and peers in our advocacy both inside the University and to the government.”
Speakers at the event stated that this march is only the beginning and there are plans for other demonstrations and advocacy work in opposition to the Advanced Education budget.