For the first time in sixteen years, we have a new party in power in British Columbia. The SCFA and our provincial body, the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators, are non-partisan organizations. However, we have supported change that would lead to more accessible, affordable post-secondary education delivered by institutions that emphasize teaching and research rather than “leadership” and “innovation.”
We saw immediate change with the removal of tuition on ABE, ESL, and Prep courses. We are hoping for more including a return to an entirely publicly funded system rather than one that relies heavily on rising tuition, extra student fees, and mounting (and precarious) tuition fees from international students. Our students pays too much for their education. They work too much while taking courses and start their working lives with unacceptably high debt. Van City reported that BC students have amongst highest average student debt in Canada, averaging $30,856 in 2015. This is not news to SCFA members. We see the effects of these pressures on our students every day in our classes. We often know about it first-hand from our adult children who are taking post-secondary education. Nevertheless, it is an issue that we can work on together with the SCSU and now is the time to push for change with a new government.
So much for politics! The other focus of the SCFA this year is to engage you in your association. You should have an SCFA membership card now. It has contact information on it for Lui Marinelli, Chief Steward, Rebecca Jacobson, VP Liaison, and me. Union cards are humble but important things. They show you are a member of the SCFA and they connect you to a labour movement in which it has not always been safe to have a card. It would great to see cards on every member’s office bulletin board.
We are also trying to get you involved in the SCFA through activities, and events in which we share values. Members carried the SCFA banner in the Nelson Pride parade, and in the Castlegar “Take Back the Night” rally. The SCFA, along with PPWC and SCSU, was a sponsor of aboriginal services’ Orange Shirt Day. The SCOPE committee also put on a great event to celebrate the professional achievements of our members, and to provide a chance for us to have a social. Our Non-Regular committee representative, Leesa Dean, is planning to promote Fair Employment Week at the end of October. We are hoping to have a steward committee up and running by the end of the month. All of this is part of our engagement project. Tell us how we are doing.
A final piece of positive news. FPSE now has a standing committee on Decolonization, Reconciliation, and Indigenous issues. Sue Hackett has agreed to be the SCFA’s first representative on that committee. We live in our hopes of something better.
I hope that you have a great semester.