Like many students starting university coming out of high school, I found entering the University of Alberta north campus to be a jarring experience. I was amazed and overwhelmed not only by the number of students, but by the cultural diversity and large number of student groups and academic disciplines. I slowly adapted to this new environment and adopted the mindset of making the most of my university experience through community involvement.
This involvement allowed me to build up the courage to run for student politics in my fall semester. To my surprise, I was elected and learned about several issues faced by students. Over the course of the year, I gradually grew more comfortable talking about these issues with others.
As I grew my awareness of student issues, I also became aware of other University of Alberta campuses that each had their own unique blends of diversity and culture. These campuses are part of the University of Alberta as much as north campus, but have the burden of facing unique issues that are often overlooked or forgotten by the university as an institution. I quickly came to the realization that I still had much more to learn if I wanted to be a true representative.
This learning took the better part of a year and involved discussions with student representatives from Campus Saint-Jean and the Augustana campus. I am still learning. It seems problematic for me to group these two campuses together because we must understand that each one faces unique challenges in addition to similar challenges faced by students at north campus.
At Campus Saint-Jean, we need to ensure that all of our crucial documentation (bylaws, political policies) are translated into French. This is actually a part of the current Students’ Union bylaws. However, the deadline set for a full translation is April 30, 2018 – over a full year from now. The process is currently relying on student volunteers to perform the translation, which could lead to slow and potentially inconsistent progress. I believe that these translations can be completed within 60 days by paying a professional translator, or actually hiring the students to translate in adherence to a consistent professional standard. We have an opportunity to show that we value the quality of our translations by getting them professionally done. Beyond this, the Students’ Union should also show a regular presence at Campus Saint-Jean by holding regular office hours at the campus.
At Augustana Campus, we must work towards making the distance between Camrose and Edmonton financially smaller. As it stands now, students wishing to travel between Camrose and Edmonton have only two options besides driving themselves: a $90 round-trip Greyhound ticket or two $100 one-way taxi rides. This high cost is prohibitive and increases the gap between our university campuses. We need to lessen the financial burden of travel by promoting and developing a carpooling network while we explore the possibility of a dedicated bus route. Apart from this, the Students’ Union should also hold regular office hours at Augustana to convey approachability to students and symbolize the importance of a connected campus.
The University of Alberta Students’ Union must ensure that its actions as a union are not isolated to only north campus. This can be done by extending platform commitments to all of our campuses.
Hold office hours at Augustana and Campus Saint-Jean at least once per month each.
Extend all of my other platform points to Augustana and Campus Saint-Jean. This includes drop-in child care.
Work with the Augustana Students’ Association to develop a carpooling network in order to connect Camrose and Edmonton.
Translate Students' Union bylaws and political policies into French within the first 60 days.