Student leaders take opposing views on conference

Student leaders at the University of Manitoba and University of Winnipeg are taking opposing views on the value of the fifth annual Canadian Conference on Student Leadership, which will take place from Nov. 17 -20 at the University of Calgary.

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) and the U of M Office of Student Life are helping fund eight students and two staff members to attend this conference. The Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) is helping to send around eight students, and the faculty of science is sending two students to this conference as well.

Registration costs for the conference are $250 per delegate, accommodation and transportation fees not included.

The conference includes presentations from four keynote speakers, including Craig Kielburger, co-founder of Free The Children, and workshops focusing on health and wellness, community engagement and service learning, emerging leadership and refining leadership, according to the conference’s website.
Camilla Tapp, UMSU president, said that the purpose of this conference is to bring students leaders from across Canada together to discuss ideas about leadership.

“We wanted our students to attend this conference, come back to U of M and share their knowledge with the campus community,” said Tapp.

“The students will hopefully create some projects to support campus community when they are back,” she said.

Tapp noted that the students who are attending this conference will have to report back to the campus community in some form. “It can be a presentation in UMSU council, a blog or an article in the Manitoban.”

She said that the conference will be helpful for personal development for the students who are attending as there will be a lot to learn and apply in their everyday life.

“There is not really a place to get training on how to be a leader, [ . . . ] so I am hoping that this conference will be an opportunity to do that,” said Tapp.

Lauren Bosc, president of University of Winnipeg Students’ Association, said that UWSA felt it was too expensive to attend the conference and chose not to send delegates.

She explained that UWSA has a limited budget to send elected student leaders to go to conferences, and to help fund students at large to attend academic conferences.

“We are sending five delegates to Canadian Federation of Students’ annual general meeting where a lot of decision-making is done” — something she didn’t feel would happen at the Canadian Conference on Student Leadership.

“The [Canadian Conference on Student Leadership] is more of a networking opportunity,” she argued. “We therefore did not see any value in sending delegates using students’ money.”

Brendan Hughes, director of Student Life at U of M, said he felt this conference is a good personal and professional development opportunity for the students.
“We are fortunate to have some money set aside for student opportunities like this,” said Hughes.

Hughes also noted that it is more cost effective for the university to help fund students to go to a conference like this than to host one.

“It is a great way for us to invest, even if it is in a small number, so that a greater good can actually benefit down the road,” he said.

He added that Student Life is also looking to bring different student leadership opportunities to the U of M campus so many students can participate.