UMSU presidential candidates discuss priorities: Jakob Sanderson

Photo provided by Jakob Sanderson.

Arts Student Body Council president Jakob Sanderson said that as the cost of education begins to rise, students will need to get creative to keep university affordable.

Manitoba passed legislation in 2017 increasing the cap universities can increase tuition annually to five per cent plus inflation. The U of M has indicated it intends to take advantage of this, and tuition fees could climb by about 6.5 per cent in the fall of 2018. The legislation also lifts restrictions on course-related fees.

The fourth-year political studies major and theatre minor said if his Elevate UMSU slate is elected it will work with university administration to develop a downloadable app or database that would attach to students’ Aurora accounts and connect them directly with every scholarship and bursary available to them. This would also include assistance in the application process and a broad effort to reach students and outline available financing, he said.

“There is a lot of money there,” he said, “the problem is that students don’t always access that.”

“We really want to make it as easy as possible for students to be able to access this financial aid and awards because what we hear a lot from the provincial government – especially after the tuition hikes – is how much more money they put into the Manitoba Scholarships and Bursaries Initiative,” he said, referring to a Progressive Conservative campaign promise to increase the double the program’s funding to $20 million through private investment .

Sanderson said his executive would pressure the university to take advantage of Open Educational Resources, which fosters the use of public domain resources like textbooks, which he argued could help limit the pressure of increasing fees on students.

“I think that while we definitely need to have strong advocacy with the administration, we also need to be sort of looking at other creative ways to make education more affordable,” he said.

The slate also plans to establish a university-wide mental health working group to ensure adequate resources are available in every faculty and department, which Sanderson will only be more necessary as students’ stress levels increase alongside tuition fees.

He said his executive would also work to connect international students with immigration lawyers to assist them with filing for their social insurance number and a Manitoba health card so they may work while attending classes.

Elevate UMSU:

President: Jakob Sanderson (president, Arts Student Body Council)

Vice-president external: Owen Black (director of public relations, St. Paul’s College Students’ Association)

Vice-president student services: Carly Mastromonaco (senator, Science Students’ Association)

Vice-president finance and operations: Mbuli Matshe (director of finance, Arts Students’ Body Council and Arthur Mauro Students’ Association)

Vice-president advocacy: Sarah Bonner-Proulx (academic programmer, Science Students’ Association, co-president, Active Minds)