President’s message – Jan. 5, 2011

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Welcome back to the University of Regina! I hope everyone had a happy, safe, and relaxing holiday season.The new year has just begun and the U of R students’ union already has a number of engaging events and initiatives planned.

For example, we will be launching a bottled-water free campaign. We want the University of Regina to ban bottled water – it’s expensive, wasteful, harmful to the environment, and not as safe as the high-quality, public water that comes from our taps. As part of this sustainability campaign, we will be distributing re-usable water bottles, informational literature, buttons, and we have already started working with the university to explore the possibility of installing water bottle refilling stations around campus. It is an exciting campaign, and one that I hope you will support.   

A major event happening in the winter semester is the National Day of Action. On Feb. 1, students from coast to coast will be going “All Out” to demand action on several important public issues. Here at the University of Regina, we will be focusing on the unfair spending cap placed on the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), as well as demanding that the provincial government drop tuition fees. A short outdoor rally and a longer indoor portion will be happening on Feb. 1 at the First Nations University of Canada – watch for a number of events we have planned leading up to that date!

Some other events happening in the winter semester include our Annual General Meeting, Mental Health Awareness Week, a small sexual health fair, a referendum to establish a tiny $1 fee for UR Pride, and students’ union elections, among others.

This last year, for the first time in nearly twenty years, the University of Regina Students’ Union has a new logo and a refreshed brand. The new logo’s selection process was a collaborative one between the executive, the board, staff, and students themselves. We accomplished something that students don’t do very often – we completely changed the face of our students’ union.

The students’ union also passed one of the most successful budgets in its history. We had record revenue from increased enrolment and excellent performance from the Owl. To ensure a balanced budget we also had record – yet sustainable – spending, with massive amounts of money invested back into students through increased funding to the student societies and student sponsorship. It was a historic budget in another sense – we made the long overdue decision to eliminate the perks, privileges, and giveaways that previous students’ union executives indulged in. For instance, during the election we promised to save students thousands of dollars by getting rid of the executive’s cheap food and booze they enjoyed in the Owl, as well as their free classes – it was a promise made, and so it was a promise kept. We also lowered the fee students have to pay for a locker and created the very first fund that is available exclusively to residence students who want to hold an event to engage members on campus.

Our relationship with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is the healthiest it has been in some time. We have a prairies organizer as well as a functioning bank account and accountability. The URSU’s very own Haanim Nur was elected as the CFS-Sask Chairperson and I was elected to the national executive of the federation. We have sent strong and diverse delegations to the Federation’s National General Meetings, and have even given presentations as part of workshops so that students from across Canada can learn from Saskatchewan’s successes and experiences. We have done the groundwork necessary to ensure members are benefitting from the various services offered by the Federation. We also went to Ottawa for the federation’s annual Lobby Week, during which we meet with MPs and senators from all parties to discuss post-secondary education issues. 2011 has been, without a doubt, a year of re-building bridges with our sisters and brothers from across the country as part of the student movement.

Last semester, students did yet another thing that was a historic first – together, we pressured the University of Regina president to actually hold a public forum on parking to consult with students about parking services, administration, fees, and policy changes. Our parking campaign was, by almost every measure, an outstanding achievement. President Vianne Timmons was gracious enough to interact directly with students during the forum, and I continue to keep in close contact with the university’s administration about advancements as they relate to parking issues.

Perhaps the most substantial accomplishment we’ve been able to achieve thus far was the Our Future is Now campaign that ran during last year’s provincial election. Leaders in the student movement have never been afraid to challenge the status quo and advocate for better policies that will benefit members – and we did just that. Working with professors, the CFS, First Nations leaders, politicians, and, of course, with the student body, we developed a strong campaign with sensible, well-researched, and achievable policy recommendations. Many political parties actually adopted many of our recommendations into their official platforms, and we managed to pressure the governing party into focusing more on post-secondary education than it otherwise would have. The campaign, in short, was a smashing success, most evident in how it engaged members. Close to Election Day, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) even released a study on post-secondary education, housing, and childcare that vindicated everything we were saying during the campaign.   

There are many others to list, but for brevity’s sake I have to end it there. I look forward to another semester of working for students and even more accomplishments that we can achieve together.

Kent Peterson
URSU President

1 comment

  1. Max Elliot 6 January, 2012 at 00:30

    So, in other words, you’re willing to throw away all the money that we get from Coca-Cola? Excellent idea. That will almost certainly help with tuition fees.

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