CSU returns to Victoria to participate in lobby days

“Where’s the Housing?” campaign will continue to push for on-campus accommodations

Annalisse Crosswell // Contributor

After taking part in a successful “Where’s the Housing?” campaign last year, the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) and the Alliance of BC Students (ABCS) are heading back to Victoria.

From Oct. 15 to 18, Vice President External Noah Berson, Accessibility Justice Coordinator Andrew Dillman, Global and Community Studies Faculty Representative Anna Rempel, Students of Colour Liaison Divya Nanray and Board of Governors Representative Hassan Merali will be lobbying to make education more accessible for all BC residents.

Last year’s campaign was aimed at getting on-campus housing for post-secondary institutions in BC. According to Berson, there has been a really positive response to the new residences on Dollarton Highway from the University and from students. The push now is for residences that are not just close, but actually on campus. It also seems that the community is not entirely behind this proposal with concerns for street parking.

Not only is the CSU continuing to lobby for on-campus student housing, but also better tenancy rights for post-secondary students throughout BC. Though Berson acknowledges the need for universities to be able to maintain order within residence, he and his delegates’ focus is aimed at avoiding situations in which students are not afforded even the basic elements of the Tenancy Act. “We just want to make sure that all students have a fair say within any of these processes and really getting their rights under the tenancy rights,” he said.

Berson said he felt most strongly about this topic of on-campus housing. He sees the potential, not only for students, especially for a commuter school such as CapU, but also for the community. On-campus housing affords students the luxury of accessibility while also opening up houses for other lower and middle- income earners around Vancouver. It also frees up space on transit and creates opportunities for building more of a community within universities.

Front row: Alex Lomelino (KSA), Emily Solomon (former CSU Women’s Rep), Harsimran Malhi (LSU) Gloria Liu (UBC GSS) with Jordan Sturdy and Jane Thornthwaite (Back row). Photo courtesy of the CSU.

In terms of this year’s requests, however, on-campus housing is their second priority with education for lower and middle-income students coming first.

“[We want] debt that students take on to have no interest so that education is fair no matter what your background income is,” said Berson. This would be created by way of needs-based grant programs and would be aimed at providing equal opportunities.

Also on the list this year is the need to eliminate interest on student loans and create more scholarships for graduate students. Despite recent cuts to interest rates, students who can’t afford to pay tuition up front are still at a disadvantage and, with better opportunities to be found outside BC, are moving elsewhere within Canada to further their education. The cut to interests rates earlier this year mean that students are already paying half as much interest as they were previously. But with the current expense of living in BC, and more specifically in Vancouver, students are asking for more.

The last request is straightforward. Those involved in the campaign want it to be known that continued support of the U-Pass program is important, and that funding of the 10-year transit plan is something that BC students want. “You start someone using transit in high school or university and you’ve get them using it for life,” Berson said, expressing his excitement to be attending Lobby Days for the first time.

He and the rest of the CSU think the new provincial government offers great opportunities for forward movement in these student matters. The campaign aims to keep the best interests at heart for all BC students, and most importantly those lower and middle-income students who require accessibility the most.

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