KSA ends CASA contract, VP finance and operations and arts rep resign

The KSA has been a member with CASA since 2020

The next council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16 at 11:00 am. (File photo)

The next council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16 at 11:00 am. (File photo)

The Kwantlen Student Association announced they will be terminating their contract with the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) in a council meeting on Feb. 2. 

The contract will end in May, Vice-President External Affairs Jasmine Kochhar said, and council voted on the decision at the Jan. 12 meeting in an in-camera session with unanimous consent and two members abstaining from voting. 

“The primary goal was to focus more on the provincial issues rather than focusing on federal, because if you’re not really substantially strong on what our provincial issues are, we cannot advocate for the ones at the federal level,” Kochhar said. 

CASA is a federally focused student advocacy organization that represents over 365,000 students across Canada. Student associations sign up to become a CASA member and the membership carries down to each student at the school, meaning all Kwantlen Polytechnic University students are members. The organization gives post-secondary students the opportunity to advocate for issues important to them on a federal level.

At the Jan. 12 meeting, KSA council discussed the possibility of ending their contract with CASA. KSA President Abdullah Randhawa said they want to focus internally first, building a strong relationship with students and university management before moving onto a federal level. 

KPU student Sylvia Simpson expressed concerns with the KSA potentially ending their membership with CASA during this meeting. Simpson is part of CASA’s National Indigenous Advocacy Committee (NIAC) and said there is no Indigenous representation for KPU in Ottawa. Simpson expressed if the KSA ends their CASA membership, being part of the committee will not be possible for herself, and also future students. 

Speaker of Council Aditya Sharma announced VP Finance and Operations Amitoj Singh resigned during Friday’s council meeting. Executive Director Timothii Ragavan said Amitoj resigned due to wanting to be closer to his family. Amitoj was not at the meeting. 

Mature Students Rep Gurtejpreet Kaur Kailyan was voted in as the new VP Finance and Operations. Kailyan said she would fit well into the position as she is currently the chairperson of the KSA’s finance committee. 

“So that adds up a lot that I can serve as VP Finance and Operations and all my efforts would be towards improving financial policies and I hope it goes well,” Kailyan said. 

Sharma also announced Arts Representative Jobanpreet Singh resigned from council. No reason was stated for Jobanpreet resigning. 

Chief Returning Officer (CRO) Sameer Ismail said the KSA general election will have over 70 candidates running this year. Seventy-seven nomination packages were submitted, however some were withdrawn or did not meet the package requirements, lowering the number, Ismail said. 

There is only one design representative and there were no candidates for Indigenous Students Rep, he said. The KSA didn’t receive valid nominations for academic and career advancement, health, and the trades and technology representative positions. 

“I think going forward, we’ll just need to have a look after the election, in terms of whether those are ongoing issues and if so, what some ideas might be to try and deal with that for future elections,” Ismail said. “So far it’s running as well as can be expected.” 

This year, voting for the KSA general election will take place in-person on campus. Ismali said he is still in conversations with KPU on how to navigate accommodations for those who cannot vote on campus. Ragavan said the KSA will send an official announcement through KPU announcements on how the process will work by next week. 

Ajamu Attard from Student Support, an organization that aims to provide services relating to well-being and academic resources, gave a presentation to council about their services to offer to KPU students in sponsorship with the KSA. 

Student Support offers five different services including Udemy, an educational site, ProWritingAid, which provides writing support, exercise platform Aaptiv, tutoring and homework help platform Nimbus Learning, and mindfulness app Calm

Attard said almost 500 signatures were submitted in the last semester, expressing support in having access to these services. If approved, the Student Support membership would be $25.45 per semester, which students can opt out of, and would last for five years. The services combined are worth $2,905, Attard said. 

Student Support is giving away 500 Udemy business subscriptions so KPU students can try one of the services before making a decision at the Annual General Meeting in March. Randhawa asked for Student Support to attend the next meeting to further discuss the partnership. 

Queer Students Rep Destiny Lang said they have been in meetings with the Pride Advocacy Group (PAG) on how to support awareness of sexual orientations and gender identities education (SOGI) and address misinformation that has been publicly seen over the past few months, in their report. 

Lang said they’re working on having a SOGI education panel with PAG founder Romy Kozak and others who have been involved with SOGI advocacy work sometime in March. 

“I believe that these effects can increase KPU’s collective understanding on how SOGI can promote a safer place for everyone to find,” Lang said. 

Lang conducted a presentation to the SOGI advisory committee from the Richmond School District last month about their advocacy experience from elementary school to post-secondary. Lang is working with Richmond School Trustee Heather Larson to create a queer peer support system to help Richmond high school students connect with the community and is planning to work with other schools in B.C.

“I’m really excited that we will have at least more than one person running for the Queer Students Representative position this year. I believe having this sustainable leadership is important so that my work can be carried on even when I’m not part of the KSA council anymore.” 

The next council meeting is scheduled for Feb. 16 at 11:00 am in Birch 250 and over Microsoft Teams. Those interested in attending the meeting can email info@kusa.ca