A look at the year ahead
First of all, on behalf of myself, vice-president of external affairs Paige Kezima, vice-president of operations and finance Haanim Nur, and vice-president of student affairs Melissa Blackhurst, allow me to wish the Carillon the best of luck as it kicks off this volume of issues. The Carillon has been the students’ newspaper since 1962, and I’m glad it continues to be a powerful voice for student journalists. It will be this academic year, 2011-12, that the Carillon turns 50 years old. It is, no doubt, an important institution and few were more pleased than I when students voted to increase the Carillon’s student levy at the last University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) annual general meeting.
This year will be an exciting year for the U of R, the students’ union, and students themselves. Firstly, the university is celebrating 100 years of excellence in education. The College Avenue campus is turning 100, and celebrations will be held throughout the year to mark this very special occasion. In terms of the students’ union, our largest initiatives will be centred around the upcoming provincial election. The vote takes place in November, but we’ve already started planning. The union will be campaigning on several fronts. We will be asking our provincial politicians to commit to implementing a fully-funded tuition freeze in Saskatchewan. Tuition has skyrocketed over 11 per cent in just three short years, while rent, grocery, and fuel prices have increased. It is simply unacceptable for a province with record revenues, and a surplus budget, to squeeze more and more from students. Our provincial neighbour to the east, Manitoba, has far less wealth, yet tuition costs each student $1,800 less per year. Meanwhile, students in Newfoundland and Labrador pay some $2,400 less in tuition each year when compared to Saskatchewan students. It is time the provincial government makes students a real priority and implement a fully-funded tuition freeze.
Tuition will not be the union’s only focus during the election. We will also be lobbying for more affordable housing, additional subsidized childcare spaces, and relief from ever-increasing rent. These campaigns will be done using not only our own research and resources, but also utilizing the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) as well as the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL). Moreover, relationships will be built with a number of community-based organizations that already specialize in the issues listed above. Our provincial campaign efforts will be a broad-based community effort. I encourage students to contact the union to find out ways they can help make a difference during the upcoming provincial election.
Students can also look forward to the host of events and campaigns already being planned by our on-campus student groups. The Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG) has a number of exciting projects this year. URSU will be joining with RPIRG as they plan their 16 Days of Activism events, to take place in late November. RPIRG is also bringing back its acclaimed Apathy into Action, and I certainly look forward to that being another great success.
The Women’s Centre and the Fifth Parallel Gallery will have important programming throughout the year, and I encourage all students to visit these fine organizations regularly. The UR Pride Centre will be implementing a positive space network, to make the U of R a more informed, accepting, and compassionate campus. UR Pride has also struck a steering committee to plan the 2012 Canadian University Queer Services Conference (CUQSC). CUQSC is a national conference hosted by a different university each year. Hundreds of delegates from across Canada will converge on Regina to discuss issues relating to orientation, identity, safety, services, networking, and a host of other topics.
The students’ union is currently planning a number of on-campus events and campaigns. Ally Pilkey has also been busy preparing for Welcome Week. However, these details will have to wait for the next issue of the Carillon. For regular updates and reports you can visit ursu.ca and read the executives’ blogs. I hope you are having a relaxing, and safe, summer.
Kent E. Peterson