President Amanda Nielsen provides an update on AUGSA’s recent advocacy activities.
One of AUGSA’s key responsibilities is to advocate on behalf of our members. While this can mean bringing the issues of individual students to the relevant parties within the university, it more often means advocating on behalf of all graduate students at AU.
This advocacy work is accomplished in a variety of ways. We sit on a number of committees and boards within the university community, and we also advocate to the government on matters such as research funding, Open Access, and the creations of a provincial part-time student loan program. In addition to “going it alone” as AUGSA, we lobby the government through our roles in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, the Alberta Graduate Council, the Ontario Graduate Students’ Alliance, and the Alberta Students’ Executive Council.
Our membership in these larger student organizations allows us to access the shared resources of each organization to research and develop policy, and to gain access to Members of Parliament, members of the Alberta Legislative Assembly, and members of the Ontario Provincial Parliament with whom we might otherwise be unable to get a meeting. AUGSA is also highly respected in our own right and is able to secure many meetings even without operating through our partner organizations.
AUGSA currently has two main advocacy efforts underway. The first is developing policy in Ontario through our role in the Ontario Graduate Students’ Alliance (OGSA). Because so many of our members reside in Ontario, they are affected by student issues in that province. The OGSA recently hired an Operations Coordinator and we are working with her to identify our policy priorities and develop documents to lobby the Ontario government on behalf of graduate students.
The other major initiative we’re working on right now is a push to get meetings with all 87 Alberta MLAs. We have secured nearly 40 meetings so far, and are following up with the rest. We will be meeting with as many MLAs as possible over the next two months in order to promote graduate student issues such as:
- The creation of a graduate retention program to encourage highly skilled individuals to remain in Alberta upon completion of their post-secondary program;
- The launch of a professional development program aimed at providing graduate students with skills that will help them succeed in industry; and
- The development of a provincial part-time student loan program.
We have already met with a few opposition MLAs about these issues and they have been receptive to the ideas. We hope that the government will be similarly supportive and that some of these ideas will be implemented in the future.
If you have any questions about AUGSA’s advocacy activities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can contact our Operations Coordinator, Adam Snider, at email@example.com or our President, Amanda Nielsen, at firstname.lastname@example.org.