The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union has recently taken part in an effort aimed at putting important issues students face on the radar of the federal political parties.
This effort has been made in collaboration with dozens of other Canadian university student unions who have all signed an open letter addressed to Canada’s party leaders. The letter details three key issues phrased as calls to action.
The calls to action are: to increase the accessibility of education by increasing grants and eliminating interest on federal student loans, to create “sustainable, high-quality jobs” for students and new graduates, as well as work-integrated learning opportunities, and to commit to closing the gap in university attainment of Indigenous people.
The letter claims that young people are “more politically engaged than ever before” in the face of collective challenges such as climate change and the responsibility to act on the findings of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report. It concludes by reminding politicians that the largest voting bloc in this election are voters aged 18 to 38 who make up more than 37 per cent of the electorate.
“When students head to the polls in October, we will be voting with these commitments, based on important student priorities, in mind,” the letter reads. “We call on you to remember the 2.5 million students, their families, and Canadian citizens who are passionate about an affordable and accessible post-secondary education system and are counting on you as their next government.“
Regan Ratt-Misponas, president of the USSU, says that the union became involved with the letter through the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities, an informal coalition of student unions. The idea for a national letter started in Ontario with the purpose that candidates running in university constituencies “could read these [calls to action] and see the issues that students really want to see a change on,” Ratt-Misponas said.
The USSU wants to get students out to vote in the upcoming elections and will be organizing awareness efforts over the next month. This includes a forum with candidates.
“Candidates of this particular riding hopefully are going to come and express their party’s values and their party’s visions of what Canada is to look like, as well as their platforms, so that students may be able to decide who they’re going to support in this upcoming election,” Ratt-Misponas said.
With regards to future collaboration between Canadian student unions, Ratt-Misponas believes that there is “strength in numbers.”
“I think that as students, as young people, we are a huge voting bloc and we have the opportunity to really make a change in the shape of federal politics, and in deciding who our representation should be,” Ratt-Misponas said.
“In general, as students, we face many similar issues, and I think that the best way to address them is to address them together, and I think that this national letter does that in a good way.”
Photo: Invisible Hand/ Flickr