October 29 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 33  

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Student politicos put heads together

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

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 Students?Council.

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 explained.

"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.




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