April 19, 2022
ISA strongly opposes UASU Campus Safety and Security Policy
Edmonton—The University of Alberta International Students’ Association (UAISA/ISA) strongly opposes the University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU/SU) proposed policy on Campus Safety and Security.
The policy as proposed would not be in the best interest of the international students and many other students on campus and would put all students at risk. The UASU policy fails to adequately address the needs of all its members and in fact has been aligned with the interests of a few. We would like to remind that Students’ Union represents all students and not just a few in student governance, it is high time for the SU to advocate in the best interest of all students and not just a few students.
The ISA strongly opposes the policy due to following reasons:
The Policy would allow the SU to advocate for transit safety with only community-based approach or harm reduction practices. While both these solutions might help in addressing transit safety however, the policy restricts the advocacy for more transit peace officers, or security personnel on transit stations. Students have been hoping to have actions being taken to make transit safe for a long time now. International students and many other students have always wanted more security or peace officers on transit to address the safety concerns.
The Policy would allow the SU to advocate against the Liason Program. This program helps the University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) to work closely with the Edmonton Police Services (EPS) to make our campus safer and also reduce the response time on campus-related incidents. The SU, only considering the information-sharing part of this partnership has decided to oppose the whole program without considering the merits of the program as a whole.
The Policy is aiming at severely reducing the jurisdiction of the UAPS on campus and replacing it with alternatives while ignoring the fact that the students continue to strongly trust UAPS on campus. Not to forget that UAPS is not police, its just security personnel.
The SU Executives had conveniently waited for the SU Elections to get over and then bring this policy in the last month of the semester when student leaders are busy with final exams to get an easy door to have this controversial policy passed. The ISA had appointed a representative to the SU Policy Working Group who was never shown the policy, until the policy was shared with the ISA on April 6. This leaves the ISA to wonder - why give an international student a seat in policy working group when they are not to be included in the drafting of the policy? We strongly condemn such tactics used by the SU Executives to pass their policies.
In the last year, the ISA has been reached by three international students who were either harassed or violently attacked in transit or city. On April 24, 2021, the first incident took place at University LRT Station, where an international student from China was stabbed. The student demanded only one thing, faster response time from EPS, and more security. Then in Aug 2021, a newly arrived international student was harassed in West Edmonton Mall, leading to the mall security intervention to save the student. The student reached out to the ISA and didn't want to take legal action against the aggressor due to legal case complications on international students' permanent residency. Finally, on Sep 2021, another international student was harassed (badly punched) at the University LRT Station, the student reached out to ISA, and we are sad to inform you that the student was broken within, he was crying and pleading for support. He was alone and didn't know anyone else to reach out to. These are nerve shocking stories from the last year, and they are just a few that we were informed about. International students every day get exposed to such incidents but fear reporting due to legal complications.
As a Student Representative Association (SRA) with delegated authority from the SU Council to represent international students we shall be bound to this policy if it is approved. This shall place ISA in a position where it shall have to support or advocate for a policy that is against its membership’s interests. It's a fact that international students trust the UAPS and EPS to safeguard Edmonton and our campus, many international students feel comfortable in the presence of EPS/UAPS. Thus, as ISA we strongly stand against this policy due to the aforementioned reasons and call upon the Students’ Union Council to NOT pass this policy.
It is on the SU Council now to either decide to send the policy back to the drafting phase so that every students’ concerns can be addressed to draft a policy that truly reflects everyone's opinions, or pass a policy as it stands ignoring its own duty toward the students, including the international students.
ISA will be going to the SU Council Meeting and strongly opposing the policy.
Executives and Council Members of the ISA
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