Kwantlen Student Association forgoes CASA membership to focus on provincial lobbying.
By Matt DiMera
The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) joined the Where’s The Funding?! (WTF?!) coalition, the largest student-organized post-secondary campaign in B.C., on Wednesday, June 8.
The KSA council voted unanimously to join the group, only after a heated debate about whether joining would lead the KSA into endorsing the student protests in Quebec.
“We have to be very careful here,” argued Diana Fournier, the KSA’s mature students constituency representative. “The right to rally against or for something you believe in differs greatly from the right to violently protest and cause millions of dollars in damage, while rioting in balaclavas.”
Fournier also suggested that tuition at Kwantlen was affordable compared to other universities in B.C. and the rest of Canada, and drastically so, compared to American post-secondary institutes.
“If you go and simply demand more money from your parents are you going to get it?” she asked. “That to me is ‘What the Fuck’, not ‘Where’s The Funding.’”
The issue was largely defused after Arzo Ansary, KSA director of external affairs, explained that the WTF?! coalition was a separate issue from the Quebec protests.
The WTF?! coalition describes itself as the largest student-organized post-secondary campaign in B.C., representing more than 160,000 students in eight student unions. The members of the coalition include the students associations at the University of Victoria (UVic), the University of British Columbia (UBC), Simon Fraser University (SFU), Capilano University, Langara College, the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), the University of Northern British University (UNBC) and the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT).
“Their focus is especially on provincial lobbying which is exactly where we need to be,” said Ansary. She praised the WTF?!’s consensus model and lack of rules around leaving or joining.
The campaign advocates for the elimination of interest rates on student loans, the re-establishment of a provincial needs-based grants program and an increase to core funding for colleges and universities.
The news coincided with the KSA’s decision not to seek full membership in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), a national student lobby group. The KSA has been an associate member for several years and had been asked to either transition to full member or to leave.
“The Kwantlen Student Association and its council felt that the funds that would have been transferred to CASA for our membership would be better used to create and build our own lobbying and campaign base,” said Ansary.
Ansary estimated that the membership would have cost the KSA approximately $50,000 annually. She also expressed concerns about the lack of western schools involved in CASA, noting that the Alma Mater Society at the University of British Columbia had also recently dropped their associate membership status.
About the Author: The Runner is owned by students and created for students. We are the premier news and culture source for students at Kwantlen Polytechnic University.
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