Student politicos put heads together
By Laura Katsirdakis
What do you get if you put three truckloads of student politicians
in the same room?
Last week a Canadian Alliance of Student Associations conference
was held in Ottawa, said Paul Yeoman, president of the University
There were two parts to the conference, explained Dave Ford,
USC VP-education and the Ontario regional director for CASA.
In the first part, CASA members met with former federal finance
minister Paul Martin, the deputy minister of finance, the deputy
minister of human resources development Canada and the director
of the Canadian student loan program.
"[The first part] was spent discussing action plans and
working on policy for the duration of the year," Ford
said. "[CASA is] advocating for more grants in student
loan programs so students aren't forced to go to banks for
private loans." The second part of the conference was
spent attempting to establish a unified message between many
different students organizations, including the Canadian Federation
of Students, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and
the council of Alberta University Students to name a few, Ford
"CASA is a federal organization, education is both a
federal and a provincial issue -we need partnerships [between
different student organizations] so all can send the same message
[when lobbying governments]," Ford said.
"There is a new leader of the [Ontario] Liberal Party
and there will be a federal election this year -combined, those
two things could mean there could be some major restructuring
[of the way government deals with post-secondary education
issues]," Ford said.
In addition, the "wall of debt" was unveiled at
the conference, Ford said. This was part of the "generation
debt campaign" aimed at bringing attention to student
debt, he explained.
"The wall of debt initiative went very well," Yeoman
said. "It was amazing to see the issue presented in a
visual way." "[Paul Martin was] amenable to the idea
of dedicated transfers [and putting] more emphasis on grants," said
James Kusie, national director of CASA, adding Martin's first
priority with respect to post-secondary education was that
it be accessible to students.pect to post-secondary education
was that it be accessible to students.