Posted March 2, 2022 at 1:15pm
Written Statement provided by: Holly Kletke, ULSU President
Audio voiced by: Michael Doherty and Elizabeth Charles
The following statement has been submitted in writing by Holly Kletke of the ULSU and an audio copy has been recorded by a staff member at CKXU for your listening convenience:
Who is your organization and what is their purpose in regards to the University?
We are the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union. We are an organization that is mandated under the PSLA to serve as a resource for students in all areas. Our main service is advocacy; we advocate the student voice to University stakeholders like administration, the Board of Governors, the professoriate, as well as all levels of government.
What is your organization’s mission and values?
Our mission is to provide our students, as well as faculty, staff and alumni a portal to the unique University of Lethbridge experience. The Students’ Union compliments the academic programs and enhances the overall educational experience and quality of campus life for students and other members of the U of L family.
As the heart of the student community, we are committed to student success by delivering a diverse program of cultural, educational, social and recreational services. We strive to surpass the needs of our multi-cultural, educational, social and recreational services. We strive to surpass the needs of our multi-cultural student community, create a positive learning experience, and maintain a healthy balance between academic and leisure activities.
How are you upholding your organization’s mission statement during this time?
Right now, we are in a unique and unprecedented situation, one that has never been experienced by the students of the University of Lethbridge. From the beginning of the fall semester, the ULSU has planned and strategized ways to support students at this time. We continue to offer our full services, such as our health and dental plan, foodbank, and student life services. Furthermore, we continue to be an impartial educational resource for students to access during this labour disruption. Our representatives are available and working hard to address student concerns and we are advocating for the needs of students at every opportunity.
What are your organization’s intended outcomes and goals for this situation?
Our primary and guiding directive is to the students. Above all else, we hope that the students are not negatively affected, more than we already have been, by this strike and lockout. At every junction, we have urged both negotiating parties to remember the impact that their negotiations have on students, and hope that the agreement they reach is one that ultimately betters the student experience at our institution. Furthermore, we are advocating for thorough and air-tight contingency plans to be communicated to students as job action progresses. We have created and are advocating for a number of remediation plans that are in the best interest of students when job action ends.
What, if any, services does your organization provide that will be impacted by this situation?
The Students’ Union continues to operate during job action. None of our services will be impacted by job action. Our representatives continue to attend meetings to advocate for the student body. Furthermore, we continue to offer our Foodbank and food pantry services, as well as emergency financial assistance, and we continue to support our clubs in their operations. Finally, we will be running our elections, nominations end on Friday February 25th, and campaigning begins Monday February 28th. Voting occurs from March 8-11th.
How can students and campus members get in touch with a representative from your organization?
All representatives and staff members can be reached via email. Our contact page is here.
What’s your general position on this situation?
The Students’ Union recognizes the importance of the collective bargaining process in negotiating a collective agreement between the faculty union and the University. We further recognize our positionality in this process, being that the Students’ Union is formally unable to waver decisions to the benefit of either party. We strongly encourage both parties to actively and continuously consider how their decisions impact students and their quality of learning, especially when considering job action. We further recognize that students have already had to bear financial, mental and academic challenges this past semester, and urge both sides to consider how their decisions exacerbate student struggles.
How are you supporting the mental health of your members and the community you serve during this time?
The ULSU offers a program called TAO- Therapy Assistance Online, which is a tool that any student can use to regulate and improve their mental health. This service is 24/7 and free to use. Furthermore, we continue to refer students to mental health counsellors on campus. Finally, we offer mental health programming and initiatives, such as mental health week, to promote overall mental health wellness among the student body.
What are your thoughts on funding for post-secondary education? What can campus members do to show their support for post-secondary education?
The funding cuts that we have been seeing in our sector have been incredibly detrimental to the student experience across the province. these cuts have resulted in the reduction of staff at the University, a 22.5% increase in tuition over 3 years, and a need to examine the core building blocks of our institution. We have repeatedly called upon the provincial government to stop the cuts to the sector and have continually advocated to make the sector more financially accessible for all students, this includes the tying of tuition to CPI which we secured last year and which will take effect next year.
Campus members can do many things to show support for post-secondary education including writing letters to their MLA’s and the Minister of advanced education, and attending future events which may be held to call attention to the impacts these government cuts have had on our students and institution as a whole.
Do you have any links or websites with additional information that you would like us to post on our website?
Our job action information page, updated regularly, is here: https://ulsu.ca/ulsu-job-action-response
If there is a picket line or a building on campus that is inaccessible, what should I do if I am a Student?
If you are a student, you can ask any member on the picket lines to speak to the picket captain, and the picket captain will help you resolve your issue. Alternatively, you may contact campus security or access safewalk through the uleth safe app. Campus security can be reached at: 403-329-2345
How do you feel this situation could impact the remainder of the spring semester?
This situation has already impacted the semester, as this disruption has caused students to lose a lot of class time in their studies. This situation will impact everyone differently, as everyone is at a different point in their studies, and so there are a lot of considerations to be made for each individual student. More holistically, this situation will impact the remainder of our studies as students, as the agreement reached at the bargaining table will have an impact on student success and the student experience.
What steps can be taken following this situation to promote on-campus unity?
At every junction, all members of the campus community have the responsibility to uphold the values of respect and kindness for one another. This is a difficult and unprecedented situation, it is understandable to feel frustrated, sad, or any range of emotions. Throughout this situation, we must remember to be kind to one another, and keep faith that the University that we will return to will be one that fosters an inherent sense of community.
How will you support your members and the community you serve as we transition out of this situation?
The ULSU has delivered its remediation principles and recommendations to administration, and are advocating strongly that these principles be upheld upon the resolution of a strike. Furthermore, the ULSU is strategizing on initiatives and ideas to help reconcile the truncated and imbalance campus experience of students for this past semester. We hope to work with University stakeholders upon resolution of the strike and lockout to bring students back to a great University experience
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