Different student unions, different Day of Action

Devan C. Tasa, Omega Contributor  Ω

Student organizations at the three universities located in the interior of B.C. took different approaches to promote awareness of post-secondary issues during the National Day of Action on Feb. 1.

The University of B.C. Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO) held an off-campus rally as well as a festival with guest speakers on campus.

The Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS) at the University of Northern B.C. didn’t participate, instead choosing to organize a different campaign. TRUSU focused on educating students about post-secondary issues.

The UBCSUO’s day of action began with a rally along Kelowna’s main highway.

Students then returned to campus around noon for a free lunch. They then participated in a festival and listened to guest speakers.

“We had Adrian Dix, leader of the official opposition speak,” said Kirk Chavarie, UBCSUO executive chair, “We had a professor speak. We also had our student [representatives] speak about their personal experiences and how they have spoken with students on these issues.”

Also on the speaker’s list was Michelle Mungall, the B.C. NDP critic for advanced education.

NUGSS choose to not participate in the National Day of Action.

“Because we aren’t members of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), we didn’t participate formally,” said Nadia Nowak, NUGSS president.

NUGSS had recently joined a different post-secondary lobby group called Where’s the Funding?! (WTF), which includes the student unions at the University of B.C., Simon Fraser University and the University of Victoria.

“We didn’t want anybody to be confused about what our messages and campaign goals were,” Nowak said.

“We didn’t want the media to think that we were part of the CFS when we were part of WTF.”

Novak says that NUGSS is doing a Valentine’s Day campaign in which students send Valentine’s cards that ask Premier Christy Clark to commit to more funding of post-secondary education. NUGSS will also participate in a lobby week in March.

TRUSU focused their day of action on informing students about post-secondary education issues. They did that by running a series of carnival games that each highlighted a particular issue.

“We went with that route for the day of action because we think the best thing right now is to educate the members about post-secondary education,” said TRUSU Vice-President External Jordan Harris.

“When change is to come, we need to have community support. We think that educating the community is the best way to build support for the campaigns.”

All three student unions felt that their approach to the day of action was effective.

“We have politicians speaking more on the issue and we’ve been able to engage in dialogue with students to talk about these types of initiatives,” Chavarie said.

“We haven’t really done advocacy work in the past for student funding, so [WTF] is a really good first step for us,” Nowak said.

“I think it’s a good way of educating and building support,” Harris said.

“If everyone from across the province is informing their members and creating support for an affordable system of education, I truly think it’s effective.”