Students' Union withdraws proposal for new Lister Hall residence association in response to opposition from UniversityNews Staff - Mon Apr 11, 2016
For the majority of this academic year, the Students’ Union has been working collaboratively with Residence Services and the Dean of Students’ office to address the lack of student representation in Lister Centre. The SU Executive has worked with students in Lister and consulted extensively with administration to create a proposal for a new association in Lister Centre. Last week, Residence Services and the Dean of Students office rejected major important parts of the proposal, leaving the SU in a difficult position. After a meeting on April 5th, Navneet Khinda, President of the Students’ Union, has withdrawn the SU’s proposal for a new residence association due to the lack of support from Residence Services.
In the summer of 2015, the University of Alberta Appeal Board handed down a decision to suspend the organization known as the “Lister Hall Students Association” (LHSA) for a period of two years. The Students’ Union, recognizing the need for student advocates and representatives in Lister, has worked to create a completely new association with the support of the university. “Unfortunately, the university does not truly understand what we are trying to achieve, which is a representative democratic organization for students, by students. I’ve worked hard to meet their expectations and demands, but every turn I make, all I hear is ‘no,’” says Khinda. "It's impossible to achieve their standards, especially when the goalposts keep moving."
“We are told we must consult all students, which we gladly do regardless, but we are not given access to the email list of students living in Lister. We are told to ensure future student members of this association receive education or training around a wide variety of issues, such as mental wellness and conflict management, which we’d love to do, but then we’re notified that we cannot hold our elections in the spring. That means there’s no time to provide that training over the summer, so we can’t prepare the student leaders for success. Sometimes I feel we are being set up for failure,” says Khinda.
The SU appointed Leila Raye-Crofton, who was elected as LHSA President in March 2015, as the Lister Advocate to coordinate the grassroots work occurring in Lister Centre. Despite the hurdles, dozens of students came together to participate in a visioning process to create the structure of a new student residence association. There were months of input from administration at Residence Services, and despite the compromises students made, Residence Services and the University administration are unwilling to guarantee 50 rooms, in a residence of over 1600, to incoming student leadership.
The LHSA is scheduled to return after the suspension is over, for the year of 2017-2018. The SU will work throughout the upcoming academic year to ensure that this happens, in a manner beneficial to students and the university. The SU will pursue student elections for the LHSA in the spring of 2017 and remains hopeful the university will cooperate.
“Students’ Council has the right to create representative student groups, as outlined in the Post-Secondary Learning Act and we expect the university’s support, especially when we outline reasonable solutions and aspire to work together. I think it’s very disingenuous for the university to create obstacles for students who want to create a community, while simultaneously agreeing to work through this with the SU,” says Khinda.
The SU is committed to ensure a thriving, respectful, and safe environment for all Residences at the University of Alberta. This includes establishing and supporting strong student residence associations that are elected to build that strong culture and environment.
The SU will be providing more information about the situation in the coming days and weeks. To receive updates, sign up below.
The SU is the official body that represents the nearly 30,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It acts as a strong advocate for students both on campus and at all levels of government.
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