April 20, 2022
ISA’s Statement on SU Council Meeting (April 19, 2022)
Edmonton—The University of Alberta International Students’ Association (UAISA/ISA) strongly opposed the University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) policy on Campus Safety and Security.
We thank all the international students (80+) who came to the SU Council meeting on April 19, 2022, in the midst of final exams to show their support for the ISA-led opposition to the SU Policing Policy. However, the meeting was not what we anticipated and international students who spoke up were systematically silenced by stating things, such as, “international students need to educate themselves”. We were told, that we as international students are privileged, bluntly ignoring the sociocultural and financial hardships that many of us go through in Canada. Not only were we called privileged to be here, but the reason that was cited for our immigration was - poor education system in our home countries. These statements downplay hardships such as minority conflicts and socioeconomic crises in our respective countries. Many international students who came to the council were taken aback by such alienating and discriminatory remarks. Our concerns were dismissed and the SU Council members were not open to listening to us. ISA was opposing the policy as it would have taken away a lot of jurisdiction from the University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS). Another implication of the policy was that transit safety would only be at the hands of community workers rather than transit peace officers. We kept emphasizing that international students feel safe in presence of law enforcement officers which the policy fact 10.a.ii acknowledged, but the SU Council was not willing to acknowledge that. SU Council was dismissive about the racism that international students face. There was also a lack of acknowledgment towards the violent incidents faced by international students in Edmonton, that we shared in our presentation.
Our only intent was to raise the concerns of our membership and make a policy that shall reflect the interest of all students on campus, however, we were accused to be invalidating the concerns and interests of indigenous students. We want to clarify that we understand the depth of the issues raised by the indigenous students on campus. ISA moved a motion to remove resolution 13 from the policy, so the transit safety could be added later with more consultation, however, none of the councillors seconded the motion. ISA raised the concerns about the way the meeting is being conducted and how the discussion is being racist against international students, to which again we were stopped in-between by SU President Rowan Ley to interrupt and invalidate our experiences. ISA also moved a roll call (public voting) so the students could see the votes cast by SU Council members, however, the speaker ruled out the roll call to let the SU Council members vote in secrecy with a secret ballot. SU Council finally voted in favour of the policy and enacted it without even considering for once the concerns raised by the ISA on behalf of international students.
We tried to the best of our ability to oppose the policy, and in the end, all international students who were against the policy along with the entire ISA, did a walkout of the meeting to show our unanimous rejection of the enacted policy. Our walkout was responded to with laughter and that shows the seriousness they had on this matter and their disrespect for International students. Many of our members have reached out to ISA for not calling an open protest on this item, and we would like to assure our membership that the ISA will call a public protest in the future if the tension continues to exist. During busy exam season, we did not see it wise to call for a full protest. ISA will explore its further action in the upcoming weeks and ensure that we stand by our members and their interests. This is not the end, we will not accept a policy that is against our membership interests. At last, we want to clarify that ISA was not against the implementation of community-based or harm reduction solutions. We simply wanted these solutions to be in conjunction with transit peace officers.
Executives and Council Members of the ISA.
PDF of the statement Statement PDF