Editorial – Student Funding Unrealistic

Unfortunately, I completely missed attending last week’s AUSU Council meeting. No excuses, I just completely forgot about it. I think I was looking up stuff about optimizing PDF files for Google searches. (The reason may become clear later this year.) Fortunately for me, and you, Barb Lehtiniemi was not so absent-minded, and her Council Connection article should be read by any student who thinks the government needs to provide more funding to needy students. Because, at least according to this AUSU Council, that’s not something which is realistic to lobby the government about.

Yes, you read that correctly. The AUSU Student Council has decided that it’s not realistic for them to have a policy which says that they will lobby the government for increased non-repayable grants and bursaries for students. Not just that the government is unlikely to grant the request, but that it’s not realistic for them even to pursue such an idea.

While I haven’t done the research on this yet, I’m pretty sure this is a first among students’ unions.

Let’s give the benefit of the doubt here, however. Maybe it’s not realistic to assume that they’ll ever succeed at getting such bursaries. After all, such things are certainly not in the policy manual of the Alberta Government or Alberta Opposition Parties. The PCs have some non-specific words toward supporting lifelong learning, but no numbers, and the Wildrose Alliance Party’s policy proposes at best a 50% forgiveness of student loans. And given how AUSU President Jason Nixon is the nominated member to be a candidate for Wildrose Alliance, he probably knows the chances of them providing non-repayable bursaries.

But even so, what harm does it do to AU students to have a policy that says they’ll lobby the government for needy students? The policy didn’t say how often, or how hard they’ll lobby for increased bursaries for needy students. It doesn’t give an amount that the union has to spend. But when it was a position policy, if anybody ever asked a staff member, or any person who worked at the Students’ Union, “What do you guys think of the idea of more bursaries for needy students?” they could simply look at their policies and say, “We think that’s a good idea, we want it.”

Conversely, what benefit does getting rid of that policy give to students? Are we saving a lot of money by making sure we don’t have that policy there? Were we somehow wasting AUSU resources because of that policy? When talking to government members, is their time that precious that they couldn’t sometimes say, “Also, could you consider more grants for needy students, we have a number of reasons why that’s a good thing for us and for the province.

But, on the bright side, I’m pretty sure that a student council removing a policy saying they’d like more money for needy students is a first for any students’ union, so, huzzah for us, I guess. We’re unique. Fortunately, that’s not the only thing in this week’s issue. A lot of good stuff this week, including an interview with a student working from France! We all know we’re a global student body, but sometimes it’s neat to see it in action.

As always, enjoy the read!