KSA Planning Spring Referendum to Join CASA
The vote will determine whether students will pay membership fees to join the advocacy group
News / October 25, 2018
The Kwantlen Student Association plans on holding a referendum this spring to see if students at KPU want to join the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.
CASA is a Canada-wide organization that advocates on behalf of student at the federal level. Founded in 1995, the organization facilitates meetings between politicians and student union members, allowing them to directly represent their constituents’ issues and desires to members of the federal government.
“We intend to have a referendum in February, and if students want to join, then we’ll join,” says KSA President and VP External Caitlin McCutchen. “Having the KSA’s voice at the federal level would be fantastic.”
In the past two years, CASA has published policy papers on international students’ needs, open education resources, campus mental health, and student employment issues. They have advocated for changes to campus sexual assault policies, raised awareness of educational material copyright concerns, and supported the Canadian government’s investment in grad students through the Canada Student Loans Program.
“While the provincial government provides a lot of funding for education, the federal government can also do a lot for students,” says McCutchen. “Currently, the KSA doesn’t really do anything federally. We’re well-known on a provincial level, but we also need to be advocating to the federal government.”
Additionally, CASA has led campaigns aimed at increasing student participation in the 2015 federal election, as well as awareness of student debt and the importance of financial assistance in Canada. Every year, CASA holds conferences where members can come together to develop strategies and policies meant to benefit the students they represent.
“If the referendum passes in February, [CASA] will have its annual general meeting in March, so we’d be ratified as members in March, and then student fees wouldn’t be collected until September of next year,” says McCutchen.
The KSA is planning to pay CASA’s membership fees for March until September from part of its own budget and reserves.
According to CASA’s website, since there are more than 20,001 KPU students, CASA’s yearly membership fees should amount to $2.57 per each full-time equivalent student, with the total annual membership fees capped at $55,232.
The fee would be collected each semester, then remitted by the KSA in a similar fashion to the membership fee that students currently pay to the Canadian Federation of Students, which amounts to $0.51 per credit to a maximum of $4.57 per semester.
The KSA has frequently expressed dissatisfaction with their membership in the CFS, saying that the organization works too slowly and fails to effectively serve the needs or interests of KPU students. This means that, if the referendum to join CASA passes in the spring, students will be paying fees to two different student advocacy organizations.
CASA’s membership includes student associations from across Canada, including the UFV Student Society, the Capilano Students’ Union and UBC Vancouver’s Graduate Society. If the referendum passes, it would make the KSA the fourth B.C.-based student association to join the organization.