The Students’ Union holds the health and safety of Lister residents in the highest regard. The SU is concerned that with students arriving in roughly one month and new problematic changes being made to the student staff structure and the residence alcohol policy, the residence will start the year in a volatile position. The SU has offered a framework for how the Lister Hall Students’ Association, Students’ Union, and University Administration can work together to create positive changes in Lister but the Administration has refused to work with the proposed terms.
Most importantly, the Administration does not clearly recognize the SU’s concern with their disregard for due process. The SU is not asking the Administration to reverse these changes simply because an overwhelming number of students and alumni oppose them. The SU is asking for the reversal because these changes were made without consulting the Lister Hall Students’ Association prior to implementation. This action violated agreements the Administration had with the LHSA as well as a motion approved by the Board of Governors, the highest governing body of the University of Alberta.
The Students’ Union has made it clear that an immediate rescission of these changes would not mean it will not consider aspects of the current proposal; it merely implies that this proposal is subject to the research and constructive discourse that should be expected of any proposal that is adopted by an academic institution like the University of Alberta. The consultative framework proposed by the SU would address issues in a timely and effective manner and would allow for implementation by the time new residents arrive in 2013.
If the Administration refuses to follow signed agreements that they have made with students, it is impossible for students to take the Administration’s frequently shifting position on the Lister changes at face value. If the Administration refuses to follow the Board of Governors, every Albertan should be concerned that the University of Alberta — a public institution — is no longer operating as mandated by the Government of Alberta.
The Students Union has a number of concerns that the specific changes the Administration has brought forward lack the full consideration that would have been given had the Administration entered into a consultation with students prior to the implementation of the changes. The Administration initially claimed that they had made the changes without student consultation due to urgent health and safety concerns, which they explained forced them to release the changes in the middle of summer even though most students were off campus. It now appears that their concerns are not urgent, but based on factors in Lister that would not be affected by changes to the Lister staff structure. In January, the LHSA was told that future consultation on these matters would happen in the upcoming fall, leaving the SU and LHSA blindsided by last week's announcement.
The Administration has asked students for evidence against its proposal. However, the burden of proof remains with the University Administration to demonstrate the positive impact that restricting consumption to student rooms will have on health and safety. The Administration’s proposal lacks a concrete evidence-supported connection to positive health and safety outcomes for students.
The Administration cannot simply ignore Board of Governors' motions, break agreements, propose unreasonable changes, and then simply modify their position and call it a “compromise.” The Students’ Union is ready for the Administration to honour their agreements with the LHSA and follow the Board of Governors motion by reverting the proposed changes and working together to find the best solution for the addressed problems.
For more information, please contact:
External Communications & Media Advisor
University of Alberta Students’ Union