Approximately 20 students clad in colourful Lister dodgeball t-shirts stood beside multiple executives from the Lister Hall Students Association and the Students’ Union as they delivered their speeches outside the main doors of Lister on August 1.
The press conference attracted a small crowd of different media crews as the student organizations reiterated their firm stance on rescinding the new changes announced by the university to the residence last Monday.
After an unsuccessful attempt to try to get the university to retract all of the staffing and health and safety changes, the student groups said they were willing to take up the issue with the highest governing authority at the university — the Board of Governors, as well as with the Provincial Minister of Enterprise and Education, Stephen Khan.
“But we’re really hoping that the administration can work with the student associations as opposed to having basically an external body coming in and trying to resolve conflict,” said the SU Vice-President (Student Life) Saadiq Sumar after the conference.
During the conference, the support from students and U of A alumni was also mentioned. Sumar noted how already more than 300 letters had been sent to the administration, 121 postcards addressed to U of A President Indira Samarasekera as part of the Postcards for Lister Campaign, and more than 3,000 mentions of the issue over various social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
“What we’re really trying to do is get students to express in their own words what Lister means to them and why these changes are negative for so many students,” Sumar said.
In the conference it was admitted that the administration brought forward small portions of this proposal in the past, but overall the SU and LHSA still feel like these were massive changes that should have included greater consultation.
SU President Colten Yamagishi also noted he believed the university was in error and emphasized how the organizations felt it breached agreements and processes. This included failing to take the issue to the Campus Law Review Committee for review.
The university also released new information in a written release on Wednesday regarding concerns with Lister that led them to make immediate changes with health and safety policies. The release noted that $28,000 worth of damage was done to the residence throughout 2011 and this year in addition to repeated occurrences of student lounges being trashed with broken glass and vomit.
LHSA Vice President (Academic) Robbie Wright clarified that the student organizations were more than willing to move forward with changes to health and safety policies as well as with the LHSA staffing model. However, this is only on condition that the university reverse all the changes and start the process over with inclusive student consultation.
“Let me make it clear: we welcome change,” said Wright.
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