Free legal services are available for students in Regina (if you look hard enough)
Being a student comes with a lot of challenges. Struggles to keep up with assignments, submissions, and term tests combine with the troubles of rising tuition fees and living expenses, all while trying to maintain fair grades. Being a student can also mean having to deal with a plethora of legal issues, especially in the case of international students.
Fortunately, the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) offers some assistance in navigating law-related issues via the Regina Student Legal Advocacy Centre, also known as Regina SLAC.
Regina SLAC was launched in December 2022 by URSU. Prior to the launch of the service, URSU conducted a survey to recognize the major areas of law that the students needed assistance with. In the survey that was conducted between October 15-25, 2022, 93 per cent voted in the favour of creating the Student Legal Advocacy Centre. Issues regarding employment laws, academic misconduct, tenant-landlord laws, and immigrations laws were identified as a few of the major issues that students would like to have help with. The survey also revealed that two of the prime reasons why students do not seek help with legal issues are financial instability and the inaccessibility of such services.
It was concluded in the survey that the creation of Regina SLAC would offer an important resource to students seeking legal assistance. It is also important to note here that the students who participated in the survey also wanted Regina SLAC to operate independently from URSU so that the organization is able to run without what could be seen as interference by URSU.
Therefore, similar to Regina Public Interest Research Group (RPIRG), the Women’s Centre, and UR Pride, Regina SLAC should be moving towards serving the student directly and operating independently of URSU.
The members of the legal team at Regina SLAC include Parveen Sehra (Director of Legal Operations), Chris Clarke, and Ciara McIlwaine. Sehra specializes in administrative law and has over 10 years of experience in the legal industry, including advising students on immigration, academic, and other legal issues at the University of British Columbia and through her practice. Prior to Regina SLAC, she was a director at a national law firm where she led recruitment and professional development for lawyers. Clarke and McIlwaine are lawyers and members of the Two Rivers Legal Professional Corporation.
Other team members include Nadiya Ek (Marketing Coordinator), Peter Vu (Administrative Assistant), Ethan Savette (Product Designer at Idea), and Ray Cordova (UX Manager at Clockwork).
As per its website, Regina SLAC provides a number of free legal services for the campus community that include direct one-on-one legal support for students regarding work issues, issues related to immigration and study and work permits, and also offers academic advocacy while providing legal advice and support for student organizations.
Lawyers at SLAC aid with legal issues that include, but are not limited to, issues that working students might have with their employers, understanding their rights as an employee, issues regarding rental agreements with landlords as well as understanding legal terms in leases and comprehending tenants’ rights. They also assist with traffic bylaws, family law, and more.
Assistance is also available to international students with issues related to immigration. For instance, students can ask for help with the renewal of study permits, application for work permits, and ask questions about the different pathways available to get permanent residency. Academic advising is also available for students. The lawyers can help students who are facing disciplinary issues related to academic misconduct allegations. Along with this, the team at Regina SLAC can assist with any other legal matter within the scope of legal information.
Along with providing free legal advice and services, Regina SLAC also operates a legal action team. The legal action team is expected to work directly with students to address and combat any and all systemic issues that a student, or a group of students, might encounter on campus. These issues can be related to, but are not limited to, discrimination, harassment, and oppression. The team also claims to be willing to work with students looking to advocate for policies and structures to make the campus more equitable and accessible. As such, the Regina SLAC is therefore a very useful resource for the university community.
However, there is little awareness on campus about the existence of this facility. The Carillon went around campus and spoke to a number of students about Regina SLAC. No students that we spoke with knew that the organization existed. Yet, on being informed of its existence, almost every student recognized its utility and said that they would likely approach the organization regarding a number of issues.
Simran Kaur, a first-year Business student, said that she had no clue that the university offered such services as well. Alexa Oshodi, a first-year Nursing student, gave us a similar response. Both Kaur and Oshodi were pleasantly surprised to learn that the Regina SLAC also helped in cases of academic misconduct.
“I think that is useful to know. Especially as a first-year student, when you come to the university right after high school, academic misconduct suddenly becomes a big thing. It’s not a huge deal in high school so it’s hard to fully understand what can be considered as plagiarism and academic misconduct. Which is why many [new students] end up accidentally plagiarizing,” said Oshodi.
Kaur also emphasized that the study and work permit assistance would be something that she would want to seek assistance with in the future.
It can be gauged by the students’ responses that the services offered by Regina SLAC are indeed something that students would actively seek if they were made aware that these services exist to begin with. As much as Regina SLAC is working in the goodwill of the campus community, a little more emphasis on the promotion of their services could really help them in doing what they claim to do.
Students can book appointments for seeking the above-mentioned services through the website reginaslac.ca. Any questions about the organization can also be directed to the organization through their email: firstname.lastname@example.org