SU spends $23,000 to lobby province

By Mary Chan

The Students’ Union allocated a total of $23,000 toward government lobbying efforts at Tuesday night’s Students’ Legislative Council meeting.

The money was approved in two motions, one of which earmarked $15,000 for the Tuition Action Committee.

"TAC is back," said SU Vice-president External Nassr Awada. "Our issue’s still the same. Our issue is that tuition at the University of Calgary and all across this crazy-ass province is too nutty."

This year’s money will fund an assortment of activities and advertising. Last year, the SU allotted $20,000 to the TAC campaign, which focused mainly on the U of C Board of Governor’s meeting. This year, the SU plans to expand TAC’s focus.

"We’ll be taking the show on the road this year," said Awada. "We’ve decided to make our efforts province wide."

The money will go towards bursaries, promotional ads, T-shirts, presentation materials, and the costs of bussing students to Edmonton. The plans, however, are still not finalized.

Another $8,000 was allocated to the SU’s joint lobbying effort with other U of C organizations, including administration, the Graduate Students’ Association, the U of C Faculty Association, and the Alumni Association.

"The one we’re doing with the university is aimed at the provincial government and public awareness," said Awada, explaining the difference between the two motions. "TAC is specifically for university students and high schools. So it’s for student associations across the province."

Of the $8,000, $6,000 will cover printing and mailing postcards and $800 will cover printing and distributing posters. The remaining money pays for the cost of design by a marketing firm.

On Jan. 11, 2000, SLC also allocated $2,000 to pay for part of a phone survey to be used in the joint lobbying effort. In total, the SU has set aside up to $24,000 from Special Motions Funding to lobby the provincial government.

"Students said that government lobbying is the number two priority they want the Students’ Union to address," said Awada. "Out of the budget that we have [$5 million], I think putting a total of less than $30,000 is more than enough of a real deal."

Awada added that the money is also an investment for the future.

"All that we spent this year is going to benefit us for more than one year," he said. "We’ve seen the benefits of what we did last year in terms of student apathy. We’re hoping this will help us continue that."

The TAC motion passed 15-1, while the second motion passed unanimously. SU External Commissioner Andrew Ferguson voted against funding the TAC campaign.

"I do agree that the government need to be lobbied, but I don’t feel that this approach is necessarily the best one," Ferguson said afterwards.

He added that he preferred something "rational and mature."

"I think the second motion goes more in that direction," he said. "It’s something being done in conjunction with the university. Students lobbying the government on our own will not achieve the same effect."

The joint government lobbying campaign begins early February. The TAC campaign is scheduled to launch in late February.

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