Bylaws and Policies

Political Policy Student Poverty

1 Facts

  1. Students come to the University of Alberta for a high-quality education. The fees associated with this education, however, can overwhelm students. These costs include, but are not limited to: tuition, textbooks, mandatory non-instructional fees, rent and utilities, groceries and other costs that come with being a student.
  2. The University of Alberta Students’ Union is leading in research into student poverty. Much is still unknown about this population and needs to be further researched.
  3. According to the 2018 Undergraduate Survey Report, the most common homelessness-related indicators are: being evicted or forced to leave their residence, couch-surfing or staying with friends without paying formal rent, and sleeping on campus because they had nowhere else to go. These relatively commonplace behaviours are linked with greatly increased risks of food insecurity[1][2].
  4. There is growing evidence that students who find themselves in transient situations are sometimes forced to resort to survival-sex activities such as sex work, sharing explicit images of themselves for money, or selling used undergarments simply to pay for their education.
    1. In 2018, the University of Alberta had the 6 the highest sugar baby rate out of all universities in Canada - with the majority of their income going to educational costs[3].
  5. Many students have self-reported living in transient situations including living in their car, abandoned buildings, and sleeping on campus.
    1. Students who identify as LGBTQ2S+ are at a higher risk for these situations.
  6. Students who identify as LGBTQ2S+ are three times more likely to be evicted or forced to leave their residence, and significantly more likely to couch-surf, identify as homeless, and sleep on campus because they have nowhere else to go.
    1. Students who listed their gender as ‘non-binary or other,’ meanwhile, experienced significantly higher rates of all homelessness indicators.
  7. FNMI students face a significant risk of being evicted or forced from their residence. This is consistent with the ARRC Recommendations, which note that culturally-sensitive housing opportunities are a priority for FNMI students. It is also concerning in light of the high proportion of FNMI students with dependent children.
  8. Students who experience potential homelessness indicators are far more likely to skip meals frequently due to the cost of food.
  9. According to the 2018 Undergraduate Survey Report, 24% of students skip meals once or twice per week due to the cost of food. Another 7% do so more than twice per week. Risk factors include:
    1. Increased food insecurity between first and second year.
    2. Faculties at special risk include Arts, Business, Open Studies, and Native Studies.
    3. 12% of international students skip meals more than twice per week due to the cost of food, compared to 6% of domestic students.
    4. 9% of students who self-identify as visible minorities skip meals more than twice per week due to the cost of food, compared to 5% of other students.
    5. 16% of FNMI/Indigenous students skip meals once or twice per week due to the cost of food, compared to 11% of non-Indigenous students.
    6. 9% of students who self-identify as LGBTQ2S+ skip meals more than twice per week due to the cost of food, compared to 6% of other students.
    7. Students with dependent children face a mildly increased risk of food insecurity.
    8. 17% of students with disabilities skip meals once or twice per week due to the cost of food, compared to 11% of other students.
  10. A significant population of students indicated that they would not visit the Campus Food Bank even if they felt they needed it.
  11. In the Perceived Career Value of a UAlberta Education survey, students had agree/disagree question on a 0-100 slider scale: “I feel like my experience at U of A is preparing me to find a good job. The average of all students was 58.5[4].
    1. Students who skip meals more than twice a week due to the cost of food (average rating 48)
    2. Students who have at least one type of homelessness-related experience (average 42)
    3. Students who skip meals once or twice a week due to the cost of food ( average 54)

2 Resolutions

  1. The Students’ Union will continue advocacy for lower costs associated with a university education, this includes: tuition, mandatory non-instructional fees and residence.
  2. The Students' Union shall advocate that the University of Alberta conducts demographic research to gain a better understanding of student poverty on campus.
  3. The Students' Union will advocate that the Dean of Students' Office effectively communicate the Safe House program to the campus community for those students in need of emergency access to safe housing.
  4. The Students' Union will engage relevant community stakeholders to better understand the systemic barriers underlying student poverty.
    1. The Students’ Union will create an ongoing group of community stakeholders to understand these barriers
  5. The Students’ Union will work with the Campus Food Bank to address issues and stigmas students face when accessing the food bank.
  6. The Students’ Union will work with various organizations around the greater Edmonton area to further understand the student in poverty population including populations in homeless shelters, students who rely on survival sex.
  1. Food Insecurity and Homelessness Report: https://www.su.ualberta.ca/media/uploads/1143/StudentHomelessnessandFoodInsecurity.pdf
  2. 2018 Undergraduate Survey: https://www.su.ualberta.ca/media/uploads/1143/2018UndergradSurveyReport.pdf
  3. Sugar Baby University Canada: https://www.seeking.com/sugar-baby-university/canada#gref
  4. Perceived Career Value of a UAlberta Education: https://www.su.ualberta.ca/media/uploads/1143/PerceivedCareerValueofaUAlbertaEducation.pdf