Print Edition: January 15, 2014
In an attempt to shed negative stereotypes and take back post-secondary education, B.C. students are organizing and lobbying the provincial government.
The Alliance of British Columbia Students (ABCS) officially became a society late in 2013.
“Four years ago or so there were four schools that got together and decided they wanted to lobby on a provincial level and that included us,” says UFV’s Student Union Society (SUS) VP academic Kristianne Hendricks. UFV is a founding member of the alliance and Hendricks sits on the board as administrating officer.
In its infancy the group brought the “WTF — Where’s the Funding?” campaign before legislature, but the double meaning was not appreciated, explains Hendricks. They have since moved to a “Vote Education” campaign.
“We’re focusing on post-secondary education … [serving as] a voice so that politicians know that students exist,” she says. “There’s this idea that we don’t vote and we don’t care and by going there with a group of organized students that makes them realize that, obviously, we do care.”
The ABCS was born from a response to lack of representation for students at the provincial level, despite the B.C. caucus under the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), explains Hendricks.
“There are a lot of students that are with CFS but don’t want to be — they don’t feel that CFS accurately represents [them],” she says. “One of the biggest tenets to ABCS is that … we don’t want anyone stuck in a contract that they can’t get out of or [anyone] paying membership fees that are cumbersome.”
The result is a cost-sharing model that sees the membership sharing resources among each other in order to accomplish their initiatives. The only cost at the moment, explains Hendricks, is transportation.
With the formalization of the ABCS, 140,000 students are represented in B.C. — the most in the province’s history.