Kwantlen Sikh group seeks more support

By Kristi Alexandra
[culture editor]

Sikh students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University are reaching out to student associations at other schools for support.

When Simran Devgun took over as president of the Kwantlen Sikh Students Association (KSSA) last April, he noticed the Kwantlen Student Association treats religious clubs very differently from how they are treated at neighbouring universities.

“The UBC and SFU SSA both have funding from the university, but we don’t,” said Devgun.

The KSSA, which has integrated with the Kwantlen International Student Society (KISS), is a recognized group at Kwantlen but isn’t considered a club by the KSA because of its ineligibility for funding.

According to the KSA regulations, clubs cannot be connected to religious organizations or political parties. Kwantlen has a Christian ministries group that does not receive funding from the university.

“They don’t have funding for religious groups, I guess,” says Devgun.

But it’s not money that Devgun and the KSSA want, it’s support from students — which can be hard to get when there isn’t a huge group of people who know how to get involved.

“What I wanted was to do more things on campus so people are aware of the KSSA and would join in to do something,” he said. “I was thinking of organizing an event in March at the Kwantlen Surrey campus.”

The KSSA usually offers free turban-tying at the Vaisakhi and Diwali celebrations on campus, but for the association’s next event, Devgun wanted to do something with a little more impact — even if that means teaming up with other universities’ SSAs.

“The SFU SSA and the UBC SSA both have a joint venture; they do stuff all together. They host shows and different plays and they raise money out of those plays and then hand that money to charity,” he said. “So, I was thinking to get a hold of them along with a couple of the KSSA guys and do something the other SSAs donate to societies in India. What I wanted was to look for something to do for homeless people in Vancouver.”

Whether it’s hosting events off campus alongside UBC and SFU, or bringing awareness about the group to Surrey’s large South Asian student body, Devgun and the KSSA are just looking for some recognition.

“I just want more support,” Devgun said. “Kwantlen is the main place for the Punjabi and Sikh community but we don’t have a strong SSA here the Kwantlen Surrey campus should be the main one, that’s what I’m looking for.”

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