A new USSU endeavour seeks to fill a gap in communication between students and the City of Saskatoon.
At the Sept. 9 University Students’ Council meeting, the Student and City of Saskatoon Connection Committee was announced as a new connection point for the campus and the city. Members of the committee will include students, university administration and one City of Saskatoon representative.
USSU Vice-President Abhineet Goswami says he made the proposal after attending stakeholder committee meetings for community projects, including Saskatoon Transit, the Bus Rapid Transit system, and the Corridor Planning program. Stakeholder meetings enable community members and organizations interested in these projects to engage with their decision-making processes, but Goswami decided that in order to effectively advocate for students’ needs, a more dedicated connection point between the city and students was needed.
“I talked to [my] colleagues, like, ‘Hey, this is something I want. I want a committee where the University of Saskatchewan, USSU, GSA, and the city can come together and we can discuss student life-related issues or projects,’” Goswami said.
With the help of his colleagues from the city, Goswami then drafted plans for a new committee. These plans were completed in August, after which he was able to present them to the university administration.
He says that university administration agrees that “there’s a whole void in regards to student advocacy and student-need analysis.”
“There’s a [memorandum of understanding] between the city and the university for the betterment of students and everything, but there is nothing concrete where students can come and speak their hearts,” Goswami said.
Goswami says that issues the committee will pay attention to may include the city’s environmental projects, renewable energy planning, transportation, safety and any large investments in the university’s surrounding area. However, he will not be controlling the committee’s direction himself.
“I’m more focused towards what people want, rather than what I want. I will see what [the need is], what the students really want,” he said.
Three seats on the committee are allocated to the student presidents of USask colleges as voting members.
Additionally, Goswami says the next few weeks will be dedicated to reviewing applications for Students at Large, whose purpose will be to liaise with the general student body. One seat is reserved for an Indigenous SAL, and another for an International SAL.
Goswami also says that the committee will facilitate communication about community projects students can participate in and grants they can apply for.
“Right now, all opportunities [that are] on the city website are kind of buried inside,” Goswami said. “I think this committee can be a really strong point for students where they can get to know of these opportunities.”
Goswami says that the university is a big component of Saskatoon, making it a “student-driven city” where hearing student voices is especially important.
“I believe that university students will be future employees of the city, so the more they start engaging at the university level with the city, they can understand how things work and they can be better employees and better leaders of the future.”