MacEwan out of CASA

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Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton voted to leave Canadian Alliance of Students' Associations on Mon., Nov. 18. The split from the federal student lobby group came amidst concerns about the process used by the Students' Association of Grant MacEwan College to arrive at their decision.

"It surprises me that, after declaring their intent to debate their membership in the public, in the end, they chose to hold the majority of the debate behind closed doors," said CASA National Director Liam Arbuckle in a press release on Tuesday. "The SAGMC departure will always be under a cloud of mystery as the discussions and reasons will never be known."

SAGMC President Nathan Mison explained that meeting and deciding in camera, excluding CASA officials was necessary for proper debate.

"We felt that a closed-session was needed for free flow of ideas," said Mison.

Reasons for leaving CASA, according to Mison, include SAGMC's own restructuring, and costs. Mison does not feel that his students are getting over $20,000 a year of value from the organization in federal lobbying. The federal government contributes 15 per cent of post-secondary education budget compared to Alberta's 85 per cent.

"We don't want to be a part of any ineffective, inefficient organization," said Mison. "My feeling is that CASA really needs to reorganize itself structurally."

In their Tuesday statement, Arbuckle also spoke negatively of SAGMC.

"It seems that the SAGMC... was not only intent on leaving but also trying to damage CASA's name on its way out," he said. "It is my opinion that Grant MacEwan has failed to see the big picture in this instance."

Mison explained that SAGMC may have different goals than CASA.

"We have a much different student government than other four-year institutions in CASA," said Mison of the two-year nature of the programs offered at Grant MacEwan.

Mison is also critical of CASA's statement regarding the SAGMC executive. The statement reads: "If the SAGMC under new leaders ever decides to rejoin the organization, CASA will certainly welcome them back."

Mison explained that the SAGMC executive, which brought the resolution to leave CASA, stands by its decision and will suggest to their successors to do the same.

SAGMC joined CASA in May 2000. With the departure of SAGMC, CASA is now composed of 22 student governments and represents over 300,000 Canadian post-secondary students.

The University of Alberta will discuss its membership in CASA on Mon., Nov. 25. CASA also represents the University of Calgary's Students' Union.