Student Advocacy is an activity within which student delegates from across Canada meet with government in an effort to influence political decision-makers. It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of what your Students' Union does for you, but it plays a huge role in your post-secondary education experience!
StFX students pay membership fees to two advocacy groups, one provincially and one federally. The provincial advocacy group is Students Nova Scotia, a collection of six university and college campuses across Nova Scotia. The federal advocacy group is the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, a collection of polytechnics, colleges, and universities across Canada. Both groups believe in and practice well-researched and evidenced based "asks." Asks are policy recommendations that we would like to see government make. Both organizations are structured around the goal of providing asks that make post-secondary education affordable, available, and of high quality to all those that want it.
To see a list of wins students have received through their membership fees for Students Nova Scotia please visit here.
To see a list of wins students have received through their membership fees for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations please visit here.
Canadian Alliance of Students Assosciations (CASA) . . .
CASA is a member-driven organization to which each StFX student pays a $3.26 membership fee to annually. CASA has a grassroots approach which empowers student leaders as the primary decision makers who set priorities and steer the organization's actions. As such, member associations elect or appoint delegates, who represent over 250,000 students across Canada, to take part in General Assemblies of CASA. The StFXSU delegates for CASA are the Vice-President External Affairs (primary delegate) and the President (secondary delegate). The General Assembly (also known as the membership) of CASA elects a Board of Directors that oversees the Executive Director, who in turn manages the Home Office staff. Both the Executive Director and Home Office staff are full-time staff employed through student membership fees. Delegates also elect the chairs of CASA’s standing committees, which are composed solely of voting student members. The Board and staff implement the priorities of the elected delegates in line with the mission, vision, and values of CASA. Each year, the StFXSU VP External Affairs and President meet with the rest of the membership for four key conferences:
Goal/Purpose: This is the first time all the incoming delegates get a chance to meet with other delegates from Student Unions and Associations from around the country. It is a chance for incoming delegates to begin to understand their roles and really understand CASA, as well as determine the priorities that CASA will advocate on that year. Delegates receive media training, political updates, and a presentation by an Indigenous elder.
Policy and Strategy (July)
Location: Location changes annually as outgoing delegates bid on which Student Union/Association will host it at the CASA Annual General Meeting in the spring time.
Goal/Purpose: This is when the membership develops the policies and strategies for how to successfully achieve the priorities determined at Foundations. Work is primarily done within the standing committees.
Federal Advocacy Week (Late Fall/Early Winter)
Location: Parliament Hill, Ottawa
Goal/Purpose: This is when CASA delegates meet with members of Parliament (MPs), staffers, and bureaucrats to advocate on behalf of students in terms of the priorities that were set out for the year. In November 2016, CASA had 160 meetings during Advocacy Week. To see the full booklet which was advocated on behalf of StFX students please see CASA's 2016 Advocacy Week Booklet on Inclusivity and Innovation.
Annual General Meeting (March)
Location: Location changes annually as delegates bid on which Student Union/Association will host it at the Policy and Strategy conference in the summer time.
Goal/Purpose: To assess the work done by the membership that year and finalize projects; committees can receive any final approval from membership for decision-making items; and, presentations on financial statements, Board Officers, and CASA Home Office Staff. The membership also bids and votes on which Student Union/Association will host the next Policy and Strategy conference.
Students Nova scotia (SNS) . . .
StudentsNS is an alliance of Nova Scotia post-secondary student associations which represent students from both universities and colleges. All StFX students pay a membership fee to SNS: $5.77 for full-time students and $3.44 for part-time students, annually. SNS gives 20,000 students a united voice in Nova Scotia, helping set the direction of post-secondary education by researching challenges, identifying solutions, and creating the political space needed for these solutions to happen. The SNS Board meets once a month in-person, rotating between membership institutions, and has by-weekly conference calls. SNS committees additionally meet throughout the year, depending on the discretion of the Chair of the committee. The StFXSU delegates for SNS are the Vice-President External Affairs (primary delegate) and the President (secondary delegate).
Transition Weekend (March/April)
Location: Rotates between member Student Unions/Associations.
Goal/Purpose: This is the first time all the incoming delegates get a chance to meet with other delegates after being elected or appointed. Outgoing delegates will also be present at this time to help with transition. It is a chance for incoming delegates to begin to understand their roles and really understand SNS.
Goal/Purpose: This is a chance for the full executive teams from Acadia SU, Cape Breton SU, Nova Scotia Community College Annapolis Valley and Kingstec SAs, Saint Mary's SA, and St.FX's SU to develop leadership, media, and human resources skills. The benefit of having all the Student Union/Associations' executive teams there is that incoming executives are able to collaborate and discuss with their counterparts at other institutions.
Annual General Meeting (August)
Location: Rotates between member Student Unions/Associations.
Goal/Purpose: This is when SNS delegates decide on major projects for the year, elect the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board, assess the Strategic Plan, and give a financial update.
Provincial Advocacy Week (Late Fall/Early Winter)
Goal/Purpose: This is when SNS delegates meet with members of the Provincial Legislature (MLAs), staffers, and bureaucrats to propose recommendations for change that will positively impact the lives of students. To see the full booklet which was advocated on behalf of StFX students please see SNS' 2016 Advocacy Week Booklet.