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SU Elections 2024 Q&A: International Students’ Association Referendum

The Students’ Union 2024 election is giving students the opportunity to decide on renewing the International Students’ Association’s faculty association membership fee.

The Students’ Union 2024 election is giving students the opportunity to decide on renewing the International Students’ Association (ISA) faculty association membership fee (FAMF). 

The ISA’s FAMF goes toward providing University of Alberta international students with programs and services, like discounts through the International Students’ Benefit Card (I-Card). The proposed fee is $5.00 for full-time undergraduate international students and $2.50 for part-time undergraduate international students, per fall and winter semester. The fee would apply to all U of A campuses, for a three-year term.

Representing the ISA in this Q&A is Aiman Saif, a fourth-year computer engineering student and co-president of the ISA.

The following interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What is this referendum trying to accomplish?

Aiman Saif: With the fee, we are trying to accomplish the events that ISA does to support the advocacy that ISA does, and the student beneficiary I-Card that we have. So, the fee basically supports all operations of ISA, and indirectly all international students. 

For students who don’t know, what is the ISA?

Saif: ISA is the largest student representative association (SRA) for international students, and we work for both undergraduate and graduate students. We work on all aspects that are related to or surround international students, like advocacy and services that we provide on campus. We’re just making sure that the international students feel safe and secure on campus, and feel their voices are heard.

If this referendum passes, how much will students be paying and how was that cost determined?

Saif: Undergraduate, full-time international students would be paying $5.00, and part-time students would be paying $2.50, per semester. We will not be charging for summer and spring semesters. Campus Saint-Jean students and Augustana students will be charged the same. However, that entire fee would go to their campus for their own events. We had an ISA fee survey that was filled up by approximately more than 250 students. 

Will all students be paying this fee?

Saif: All international students. Off-campus students who are in co-op and internship programs would not be charged anything.

Why do you think students should care about the work being done by the ISA?

Saif: ISA is the largest SRA on campus, and it’s only [pertinent] to international students on campus. The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) and SU also think about international students. However, international students do feel like their voices are not being heard, or they are not comfortable going to the SU directly. We are the connecting link between international students, the SU, and GSA.

Files obtained from Dylana Twittey. 

Aparajita Rahman

Aparajita Rahman is the 2023-24 Staff Reporter at The Gateway. She is in her second year, studying Psychology and English. She enjoys reading, and getting lost on transit.

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