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Students’ Union to hold protest for university budget

A protest about the increase in international tuition and other financial decisions by the University of Alberta is planned to take place this Friday.

Following a protest where over 50 people swarm the hallway outside U of A president David Turpin’s office, this upcoming protest is again urging the university’s Board of Governors to re-examine their 2018-19 budget which was approved last month. The budget includes a raise to international student tuition by 3.14 per cent, hikes to rent in residence by four per cent, and the passing of a costlier all-you-can-eat meal plan which the Students’ Union says 93 per cent of students are opposed to. Additionally, the board passed a four per cent budget cut across all faculties. This upcoming protest in Quad from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. will urge the university to re-evaluate that decision following the increase in funding provided by the provincial government.

Unlike previous protests for the tuition increases this year, the Student’s Union is directly hosting the protest.

Students’ Union president Marina Banister said the university community is united in pressuring the Board of Governors to hold an emergency meeting to reverse some of the fee increases and budget cuts, and she hopes Friday’s protest will generate a response from the university administration.

“It is a possibility that they’ll continue to ignore the voices of students,” she said. “But I am hopeful that given the amount of action we’re seeing across campus, the University of Alberta is going to re-evaluate that decision the senior administration will make the right call.”

#notpublicgood is a grassroots movement, according to Banister

The upcoming protest will be the third demonstration against the board’s decision. The first protest on March 14 was organized by the International Students’ Association (ISA) and the Lister Hall Students’ Association (LHSA) which saw a large number of students rallying in the Lister cafeteria. The second protest occurred last week following a town hall event with David Turpin where over 50 students stood outside his office for an hour.

In addition to the protests, a public campaign was also launched with posters and handbills being placed across campus urging students to mobilize on social media using hashtags like #notpublicgood and #UofAnotokay.

However, this is the first time the Students’ Union is directly organizing an event. In a Students’ Council meeting on March 27, Banister said the Students’ Union was only supporting other student organizations who were leading the campaign and called it a grassroots movement.

Banister said concerns about the Students’ Union’s official involvement in the campaign shouldn’t override the overall goals of the movement.

“Students who are concerned about who gets the credit for certain political organizing are perhaps missing the larger point of what the advocacy is trying to accomplish,” she said. ”I hope that as a student body we can all round together behind international students and behind students in residence to say we do not support the cost increases being placed on them, and that should always be the primary focus.”

As for the costs of marketing for the campaign, Banister couldn’t provide details as of press time.

“Students across the University of Alberta, I believe, think that this advocacy is a worthy investment,” she said. “And this is something that not only our Students’ Union but students all across our campus should be prioritizing.”

Nathan Fung

Nathan Fung is a sixth-year political science student and The Gateway's news editor for the 2018-19 year. He can usually be found in the Gateway office, turning coffee into copy.

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