This letter is in response to that published by the Baron on February 9, 2017, titled “What the SRC isn’t telling you”.
I feel it important that, as President of the SRC, I respond to some of these wild and unfounded accusations levelled this organisation.
Understandably, our constituents and students will want to know what we have been doing this year. Despite inheriting massive deficits from previous Councils, this executive has made it one of our priorities to bring the SRC’s finances back in order. We have also worked hard to reestablish the credibility of this organisation and the students we represent before provincial and national student alliances. Our students can rest assured that Saint John’s priorities are being heard loud and clear from Ottawa to Fredericton.
We certainly have had our internal challenges this year, posed by a member of our executive who demonstrated a flagrant disregard for student dollars and who jeopardized the integrity of the organisation with conduct unbecoming of a student leader on our campus.
However, we take pride in our successes. An SRC executive is on the board of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations — as the sole New Brunswick student — influencing the political priorities of an organisation who, in the past year alone, lobbied the government to double the number of Canada Summer Jobs, 3,000 of which will come here to New Brunswick; increase the Canada Student Grant for low- and middle-income students by 50 percent, bringing almost a million dollars to the Saint John campus; as well as increasing the Repayment Assistance Program threshold to $25,000.
Through our work with the New Brunswick Student Alliance this year, the SRC has helped to secure more than $2 million from the Tuition Access Bursary program for the Saint John Campus, helping more than a quarter of our students. Our lobbying efforts also prompted the provincial government to invest an additional $6.5 million of student financial aid in this year’s budget and an increase of 500 summer jobs through the SEED program. We also pushed the discussion on international student healthcare to the Cabinet and earned the support of the Tri-City Mayors, including the Mayor of Saint John, the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, and the Human Development Council here in Saint John. The SRC continues to lobby both UNB and the provincial government for substantial mental health supports and funding for the Saint John campus.
The SRC has also hosted politicians, including our local MLA and MP, as well as ministers, party leaders, and the premier himself to allow students to make their concerns heard directly to our legislators. We are also preparing to enter into consultations alongside the UNBSU with the university to determine a multi-year tuition schedule that will provide our students with the predictability and financial stability they deserve.
We strive to deliver the best services to our students to make their experience here at UNBSJ the best that it can be. We do not claim to be perfect and will accept that there is always room for improvement. This is why we have been conducting student satisfaction surveys throughout the year and integrating the feedback into our programming.
One last note: as the leader of this organisation, I will accept under no circumstances the slandering of my executive members or our councillors. The environment of fear and timidity that the Baron’s misquoting or haranguing of student leaders has created is unacceptable. We do not mind being criticized or asked to explain our policies and decisions; this is our responsibility as elected officials. But to provide a platform for a former editor to baselessly jump up and down on my team while beating a path out of town is an act of cowardice and one that I find reprehensible.
The students of this campus demand and deserve better from its newspaper.
President, Students’ Representative Council
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Baron has issued an editorial responding to this letter, available here.