author: taylor balfour| news writer
all about activism / Jeremy Davis
Student centre has it all.
The fall 2018 semester at the University of Regina is underway, which means student centres, groups, organizations and clubs are starting up new activities and programs for a fresh batch of student faces.
One of those groups is the U of R’s own Regina Public Interest Research Group [RPIRG], and their lineup of events for the fall semester is as packed as ever.
“Basically, RPIRG is a student centre. We’re different from student associations or clubs in that every University of Regina student pays a small fee to all student centres every semester, so that means you’re automatically a member of all of those organizations,” Krystal Lewis, the Executive Director of RPIRG said.
“So that’s the Carillon; us, the Regina Public Research Interest Group; URPride; World University Service of Canada [WUSC] – they help bring in sponsored refugees students; Engineers Without Borders; and the Women’s Centre.”
“All six of those offer a ton of different programs and services. They have resources, some give out grants like us, they just all have a different focus, but you’re a member of all of those organizations, so you should definitely come check us out in our hallway and find out how you can take advantage of all our services,” said Lewis.
RPIRG is a student centre focused on environmental and social justice.
“If you want to brush up on your leadership, community organizing skills, if you have an initiative or project or event that you or your group want to bring to campus or to the city or if you want to connect to community organizations, we will help you find a way to do that,” Lewis states.
“Whether that’s giving you money if you apply for grants, or helping connect you to people on campus or in the city, or checking out our alternative library with lots of cool resources. We just have a ton of things at our disposal that we use to try and help people.”
RPIRG’s event lineup for the semester is full of events and programs that they’re thrilled about, the largest event running for the entire semester.
“RPIRG, a few other students, and other student-led groups on campus are a part of this national initiative called Our Turn,”.
“It’s a student led action plan to end sexual violence and the focus on it is sexual assault policies on campus.”
Last fall, the University of Regina’s sexual assault policy was graded as a part of Our Turn’s initiative. The university was given a D+ grade.
“There’s some work to be done,” Lewis explains, and she says that’s why they’re working with Our Turn.
“The Our Turn initiative focuses on the actual policies,” she explained.
“We’re going to be running a survey from Oct. 15 to Dec. 6, until the end of classes basically. It’ll be online and students can fill it out.”
The survey isn’t all RPIRG is doing in connection to the Our Turn survey, however.
“We will be having a couple focus groups this month, on Sept. 13 and Oct. 1. There’s gonna be an info session about the survey, and we’re just gonna be asking students for feedback on the actual survey questions just to make sure that we’ve got all our bases covered and see if there’s anything we missed,” Lewis says.
“We’re encouraging students to attend those focus groups if they have the time, but otherwise, please just stay tuned for when we launch the actual survey and fill it out. It’ll be really important to help us gets lots of feedback and it’ll enable us to better advocate for improving sexual assault policies.”
The survey and RPIRG’s connection with Our Turn isn’t all they have planned this semester. On only the second week of classes, RPIRG has a full line up of events.
“We’re running sort of an alternative Welcome Week, so Sept. 10 to 14 is our Disorientation Week,” Lewis
“We have several events, one pretty much every day, from improv workshops, sexual health trivia, a Queering The Queen City walking tour downtown, we have a woman speaking about the politics of climate change in Palestine—she’s on a cross-Canada tour—and we’re screening a documentary in the green patch, which is our campus garden.”
Of course, if students want to get more involved with RPIRG, or want more of a say in what the centre does, Lewis says attending their AGM is the best way to do it. Since all students are members of students centres, Lewis is encouraging as many students as possible to attend.
“On September 20, we’re having our annual general meeting,” Lewis says. “Students can come, they can vote on new policies, they can suggest or recommend new policies, there’s a few things that just, as a nonprofit, we have to have our members have some input on.”
However, Lewis says there’s more to come from their AGM than just a member meeting.
“It’s a pretty quick meeting; it’s only about 15-20 minutes, but afterwards we’re going to have a panel joining us to speak about how to win a tuition freeze,” she explains.
“A tuition freeze campaign is a campaign to have tuition freeze at the current rate it is and not go up any higher. Some students a few years ago successfully won that for a short period, and so they’re gonna come talk to us about all the things they learned and how they achieved that.”
“We’re really excited about that. We’re pretty sure all students would appreciate having a tuition freeze, and that its really in their interest to learn a little bit about what it would look like to start a campaign, and the more the merrier. We want lots of people to get involved.”