News & Updates

CASA Policy and Strategy Conference Recap

Lisa Barrett, VP External, writes about the recent Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) Policy and Strategy Conference in New Brunswick.

From July 17 – 22, President Amanda Nielsen and VP External Lisa Barrett were in Sackville, NB attending the Canadian Alliance of Students’ Association’s (CASA) Policy and Strategy Conference. Held at Mount Allison University, the conference is CASA’s annual policy-setting conference. During the conference, CASA’s member organizations—including the AUGSA—determine what policy issues to focus on for the coming academic year and what strategies to use for achieving those policy aims.

CASA operates within a policy development framework which supports the advocacy and policy development goals of the organization. Breakout sessions took place on day 3 of the conference; delegates met to discuss and recommend policies for 2012/2013. Twenty four policy priorities were brought forward by the membership and categorized according to their urgency, importance, and political opportunity (i.e., how open federal politicians are likely to be to a given idea at a given time). Among the top policy priorities for this year are issues which are important to graduate students at AU, such as support for open access to scholarly materials and lobbying for increased Tri-Council funding for graduate research.

In addition to setting out the policy and strategy aims for the year, the conference was a great opportunity to meet student leaders, network and socialize. By building relationships within CASA we are able to develop a stronger voice within the organization and, in turn, better represent our members at the federal level.

Elections for the CASA board and various committees took place on the last day of the conference. The President was elected as Secretary of the CASA board and the VP External was elected to the Policy Committee. With our President now a member of the CASA executive team, the AUGSA will be able to ensure that the voice of graduate students is well represented at CASA, so we are very excited that she was elected to this new role.

The Canadian Alliance of Student Association (CASA) is a member-driven alliance of 26 student associations from across Canada with a mission to “advocate for students through policy development and research, awareness campaigns, government relations, and partnerships with other stakeholders.” The AUGSA is a member of CASA and has taken an active role in CASA’s Graduate Council, the group within CASA that focuses on graduate student issues.