Here’s an excerpt from our first-ever monthly newsletter!

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You wanted news about what StudentsNS is up to and a way to stay plugged in to the important and exciting work it’s doing: here’s a start.

September was a busy month for StudentsNS. From Elections to Researcy Papers and firing up this annual cycle of our campaigns, Staff, Board Members and Volunteers have been busy. Here’s some of what we’ve been working on.

Election

As you’ve no doubt noticed, a provincial election has been called–with E-day set for October 8th. StudentsNS’ board and staff met and prepared an assessment of the parties’ commitments to students and youth. It was also decided that the association would provide this and other information about the election atwww.nsstudentsvote.ca. Importantly, the assessment of the parties platforms, and their general coverage of student and youth issues so far, largely fails to articulate anything close to a strong and clear visions for post-secondary education (PSE) or youth attraction and retention. StudentsNS members are concerned that this will make it difficult for youth to determine which party is the most likely to support their interests. The groups assessment did give the NDP the edge in three of four categories assessed, based on their commitment to continue improving the Nova Scotia student assistance program and to concretely collaborate with students.

Alcohol Study and Sexual assault prevention project
In late August, StudentsNS announced a $45,000 partnership with the Province to prevent sexual assault and reduce alcohol risks on campuses across the province. The groups steering committees have been struck and are working. As part of the partnership, StudentsNS commissioned a consultant to offer an overview and recommendations around problems, solutions and best practices that are apparent on participating campuses. That consultant begins campus visits this week, and will continue throughout the month of October. StudentsNS staff and member representatives also attended an important, superbly organized bystander intervention trainer-training event hosted by the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre. The misogynistic and completely unacceptable chant at SMU this month drew a lot of much-needed attention to the the underlying rape culture on campuses and sexual assaults of students. StudentsNS members are working hard to seize on this increased interest around rape culture, and sexual assault to push for changes in policies, practices and the culture on our campuses, making them safer spaces for all students.

Student Financial Assistance and Tax Credits Report
Our draft position paper on Student Financial Assistance and Tax Credits is available for preview. Drafts are, well, drafts. They’re meant to spur discussion among our members, stakeholders on a topic, and the general public. They can be pretty dense, but the findings and recommendations are always important. This report proposes transformative changes to how Nova Scotia helps post-secondary students finance their education, notably by shifting funding from tax credits into targeted assistance. As always, we welcome any feedback you or your friends and colleagues might have. Discussion on this draft closes in mid-October.

Leader Lab
With generous financial support from the D250 Trust, StudentsNS hosted its second annual Student Leader Lab. The event brought together 15 students from schools across the province for in-depth discussions about how to improve engagement, the future of the student movement, the changing challenges of PSE, and more. The event also gave students the opportunity to learn basic Art of Hosting techniques which are often used by student unions to facilitate the general assemblies each campus generally holds twice a year, and where StudentsNS listens and learns about the various issues members are confronting and would like to see change around.

More stuff on the go!
Staff and board members are a busy lot. Here are a few other things we’ve been working on. Let us know if you have any questions about any of these, or if you’d like to get involved or just learn more!

  1. Staff participated in the Summer Leadership Team for the Province’s Workforce of the Future Table.
  2. The organization secured $10,000 from the Democracy 250 Youth Engagement Legacy Trust (D250) to improve and continue the work of its Mend the Gap-Women in Student Politics Project. A steering committee has been formed and is guiding the campaign moving forward.
  3. We’ll be hosting a two-hour workshop at the World Congress on Access to Post-Secondary Education in Montreal this month. Should be stimulating, and a chance to share what this organization has been doing nationally and internationally.
  4. We are awaiting a response to a $250,000 proposal made to the UNESCO World Youth Forum.
  5. Our Executive Director and Acting Chair presented the organization’s vision for Nova Scotia’s post-secondary education system to university Presidents and Provincial deputy ministers.
  6. The group has secured funding from the Province and is hiring a researcher to research Nova Scotia’s youth employment crisis.
  7. StudentsNS secured $10,000 from D250 to host a Youthful Economy Summit at Dalhousie University in March-April and is working to find other partners for what promises to be a large, attention-grabbing event.
  8. StudentsNS provided input into how to improve the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program’s online infrastructure.
  9. Work continues to work on an off-campus housing report set to drop this fall.
  10. We’re continue to work hard on Campus Health Services and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities reports, set to be released this winter.