New universities choose to stay with old lobby group

By Cailynn Klingbeil

Despite the recent unveiling of Alberta’s newest universities, Mount Royal University and Grant MacEwan University aren’t going to be represented by the province’s university students’ lobby group. Instead they will continue to pay fees into a second lobby group, which has traditionally represented technical institutes and colleges.

CAUS represents the interests of over 70,000 undergraduate Alberta university students from three universities, including the University of Calgary.
According to Robert Jones, chair of the Alberta Students’ Executive Council, “it’s crystal clear” that ASEC is representing the newly-minted universities.
ASEC, previously known as the Alberta College and Technical Institute Student Executive Council, is an advocacy group representing 120,000 post-secondary students from institutions across the province.

Both CAUS and ASEC work to represent the needs of their member post-secondary students to the provincial government, the public and other stakeholders.
Members from GMU and MRU seem happy with their current ASEC membership and there has been no discussion of them leaving, said Jones, who is also the MRU Students’ Association vice-president external.

MRU’s SA president Travis McIntosh said Mount Royal currently has no plans to join CAUS as the school’s long-running membership with ASEC provides the representation and services required.

“I haven’t heard anything from CAUS, a ‘congratulations on becoming a university,’ or anything,” said McIntosh.

He said if a request to join CAUS was received, it would definitely be considered.

“It’d be nice to just hear from them,” he said.

“At this point I can safely say we’re not actively looking to petition new members to CAUS,” said Beverly Eastham, CAUS chair and University of Alberta Students’ Union vice-president external.

While Eastham said she was happy with the schools’ new university status, she stressed it is up to individual student associations to decide what best represents their members.

“It sounds like they are currently quite happy with their ASEC membership,” she said.

Eastham noted that if either student association decided to join CAUS, their application would be considered.

Nils Holmgren, GMU Student’ Association president said GMU has no intention of changing membership from ASEC to CAUS.

Holmgren said GMU still differs from universities like the U of C and U of A in terms of the programs offered, size and research facilities, making ASEC a continued good fit for representation.

“We haven’t really had any discussion around that topic, but from what I’ve gathered in brief discussions with other executives is we have no intention of changing, we’re happy where we are and we’re not planning on making a change,” he said.

Discussions over representation of the province’s newest universities follow a separation between CAUS and ASEC, which up to this summer, shared office space, a change Jones attributes to “the will of the membership.”

“It’s an interesting time for the two organizations,” said Eastham, noting CAUS moved into a smaller office space after ASEC left.

Jones said the need for a larger space and a previously existing month-to-month lease also led to the move out, which was “most opportunistic” in the view of the membership.

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