*Editor’s note: the following article said that the advocacy week document went to Ontario, but it in fact stayed in New Brunswick. The advocacy that the NBSA does is provincial so they advocate within province to the provincial government while the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) is federal which happened right after their advocacy week.*
The upcoming UNBSRC elections provide ample opportunity for the Baron to highlight the
partnership between the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) and the SRC and, with that, time to delve further into who the NBSA is and what they do for post-secondary students.
The NBSA collectively is made up of members from the Student Union (SU) and Student
Representative Councils (SRC) of Mount Allison University, St. Thomas University and
University of New Brunswick Saint John. Although the NBSA plays an integral part in the everyday lives of those at the participating institutions, not to mention we pay for them, most students are unaware of who they are or what they do.
What is the Student Alliance?
In plain terms, the New Brunswick Student Alliance is an organization operating on behalf of university students in terms of issues, advocacy, and recommendations/requests from the provincial government and participating stakeholders on anything and everything that matters to them.
The NBSA, alongside UNBSRC, played an integral role in advocating for affordable tuition,
financial relief and a replacement for the financial and mental toll the cancellation of NB-EI
Connect placed on students.
The biggest part the NBSA and partnering institutions play in terms of vouching for student
needs is “Advocacy Week,” a series of meetings from November 14 to November 18 with
politicians, policymakers, and student union executives.
Advocacy Week 2022
This year members of the NBSA and participating institutions spoke on students’ behalf and brought forward concerns that have been identified on many different issues. During this week, the NBSA presented policy recommendations, seven to be exact, entitled “Creating a Clear Pathway for the Future of Post-Secondary Education in New Brunswick.”
With the help of these meetings throughout the week, the NBSA worked directly with executives from each participating institution on their concerns regarding each issue brought forward. The NBSA will then bring forward the advocacy of each executive from the Student Union and Student Representative Councils to the provincial government.
The week’s main focus centred on the concerns of mental health, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, housing, sexual violence, university funding, international students and financial support available to students.
During this week, the NBSA underscored how important it is for politicians to understand that post-secondary students’ financial needs go beyond tuition and mandatory university fees.
COVID-19 brought with it a wake of housing crises and the rising cost of inflation. For students, this reality is all the more prevalent, alongside rising food costs and living expenses.
The NBSA partnered with the three universities to gather student feedback on areas of struggle.
The focus areas were derived from student feedback, and Advocacy week helped the NBSA
curate recommendations brought forward to the government in the future. The results of advocacy week were made public on the NBSA website. Feedback from the NBSA Executive Director Sydona Chandon revealed that there was a high rate of response and support action in regard to expanding the affordable housing options for post-secondary students, especially amidst a housing crisis.
The result was an NBSA policy recommendation that calls upon the Government to extend the rental cap period an additional year. While some community workers and stakeholders are not a fan of this approach, the NBSA operates on behalf of students, so they will continue to do so, regardless of community feedback.
This rental cap was unfortunately not extended and expired December 31, but the NBSA
continues to fight for students’ housing and education needs.
With an overall goal to improve the post-secondary education system in New Brunswick,
the NBSA conducts research to draft policies and recommendations for the government.
Through partnerships with the government, university administrators, student collaborations, faculty representatives, members of the media, and many partnering organizations, the NBSA consistently works to keep student issues at the center of policy
discussions and public commentary.