News / Edmonton

Alliance takes aim at student issues

Housing, transit on agenda for group

Marc Bence/for metro edmonton

Left to right, Michael Janz, U of A students' union president, Justin Benko, Grant MacEwan students' association president and NAIT students' association president Kerri Wyspianski have come together to create the Edmonton Alliance of Students. The alliance is focusing its efforts on affordable housing and improvements to public transit.

"We realized that we are all working towards a common goal; helping students with housing and transportation issues."

- U of A President Michael Janz

Local students from three of Edmonton's post-secondary schools have joined forces to air their concerns about housing and public transportation in the Alberta capital.

The students' associations of the University of Alberta, Grant MacEwan College and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) have created the Edmonton Alliance of Students, an advocacy group representing over 100,000 students in Edmonton.

"This alliance came about as a result of the University of Alberta and MacEwan's students' groups working on the universal bus pass - or U-Pass - issue," said Michael Janz, president of U of A's students' union, at the alliance's public launch yesterday.

"We realized that we are all working towards a common goal; helping students with housing and transportation issues, so we decided to band together and form the alliance."

One of the ways the alliance is addressing its key issues is the recent request for assistance from the public in finding affordable housing for students.

"That was very effective and we found that an increase in the number of community members registered with the housing registry we have," he said. "It's really important that students have access to the resources they need to find housing, because - without knowing there is affordable housing available - they may become discouraged and not even apply to the university."

Edmonton City Council has been working informally with the alliance for the last several months, said Coun. Kim Krushell.

"We started working with the alliance when the city was looking at the implementation of the U-Pass," she said. "We realized that there (are) issues, such as transportation and housing, that can use an integrated approach; one we hope will benefit the student now and down the road."

Krushell cited the proposed LRT expansion to the north, which will provide direct access to both MacEwan and NAIT, as examples of long-term infrastructure that will impact students.

The short-term goal of the alliance is to raise student issues in the upcoming municipal election, said Janz, and in the long-term, addressing issues - student debt being at the forefront - that cause students anxiety.

"The students of today are the leaders of tomorrow," said Janz. "They are the next generation of business leaders and innovators and we need to work together now to assist them for the future."

Cait Wills/metro edmonton

More on