Camping season starts early

By Mary Chan

If you’ve walked towards Social Sciences lately, chances are you’ve noticed the large bus and many tents set up in front of MacEwan Hall. The setup of tents, music and protesting is part of the Students’ Union’s build up to the Edmonton bus trip April 6. The temporary tent-city is comprised of students who will visit the Alberta Legislature to show their dismay at the government’s stance on post-secondary education funding.

"The camp-out is here to show student support for our [the SU] effort to lobby the government," said SU President-elect and current External Commissioner Toby White. "This shows that there are really a lot of students who are concerned about the level of tuition and about the fact that the provincial government hasn’t really done anything to address these concerns."

Although not all campers in the camp-out will participate in the bus trip, the SU acknowledged them for their support.

"It was a nice crowd [Tuesday]," said SU Vice-president External Nassr Awada. "We expect to double our numbers Wednesday. Some people have come to us saying that they can’t make it on Thursday but have come out camping to show their support."
Despite positive feedback from students, the SU felt administration could be more supportive.

"They haven’t commented much at all," said Awada. "They know that the SU is autonomous and that we choose our own things. They obviously would benefit from a grant, so I imagine that they support us, but not as publicly as I would hope."

Because of the nature of the camp-out, Campus Security ensured the safety of all participants.

"Nothing extraordinary will be done," said Security Operations Coordinator Bob King. "But obviously we will keep an eye on them as there will be more students on campus and so a need for a little extra attention. Last year, some of the officers even went over to the camp a few times to listen to [the students’] issues."

The participants themselves felt the camp-out was a success.

"We’ve had a couple of students come up from time to time with a positive response," said second-year Humanities student Adrienne Mook.

"This is something that applies to everybody," added fourth-year Geography student Adam Gagnon. "It’s not only us that are going to university. It’s the children of people who want them to have futures as well."

The camp-out finished with one last rally in the MacEwan Hall Ballroom on Wednesday night. The rally included placard-making, music, and interaction between participants of the bus trip and the camp-out.

"It will be an all night party in the same room to get people psyched up together," said Mook. "In the Ray Alward [Lounge] people will be able to cut placards and make posters."

Some students felt the SU lacked enthusiasm in supporting the party as it had done with the camp-out.

"The only problem with the party is that the SU is not pushing it very much," said fourth-year Political Science student Colleen Bell. "That has a tonne to do with the internal politics of their executive. But the party’s main goal is to bring out the less activist students."

Following the camp-out and the party, tent city concludes its stay on campus the morning of the bus trip. The bus leaves MSC at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

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