Here’s an excerpt from our November 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.

Student Financial Assistance and Tax Credits Report
On November 26th, we released our report From Worst to First: How Nova Scotia Can Lead the Pack on Student Financial Assistance. The report recommends eliminating the Province’s Graduate Retention Rebate, Tuition and Education Tax Credit and Student Loan Interest Tax Credit and reinvest the more than $40 million in savings into the Nova Scotia Student Assistance Program. Specific student assistance program recommendations include eliminating the maximum assistance amount, converting all loans to grants, and building greater fairness into the assessment of parental and spousal contributions. Unlike tax credits, the student assistance program favours students with the greatest financial need, delivers funding to students when they need it, and is an effective tool for youth retention because it reduces student debt; a major factor in graduate’s choice to stay in Nova Scotia. The report was completed by StudentsNS Director of Research Bob Parker.
Draft Housing Report
StudentsNS released a draft report on Off-Campus Housing. The draft argues that universities must play a greater role in planning for how their students are housed and proposes that they significantly expand their affordable rental units to expand the supply of affordable housing. It also recommends changes to the Residential Tenancy Act and related services to protect tenants from abuse of their security deposits and ensure landlords are maintaining their properties. StudentsNS is looking for feedback on the report, written by Brian Foster and Jonathan Williams, before it is scheduled for approval by the Board of Directors in January.
StudentsNS also attended a roundtable organized by HRM Mayor Mike Savage. StudentsNS, in partnership with a number of community organizations and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, has signed a letter calling on the Federal Government to establish a long-term plan for housing, backed by significant investment.
Mend the Gap – The Women in Student Politics Project
We released our State of Women’s Involvement in Post-Secondary Student Politics in Nova Scotia report on November 1. To our knowledge, this was the first report in Canada to detail gender representation in student unions. It shows that although 60% of university students in Nova Scotia identify as women, the same is true of only 41% of student government representatives and less than one in three student union presidents since 2007-08. Women tend to be more represented in student governments at smaller institutions. The report was completed by Kayti Baur and made possible by funding from the Democracy 250 Youth Engagement Legacy Trust.
Student assemblies
There were many student assemblies and causes to get committees together in November. In Wolfville, Kentville, Antigonish, Sydney, and of course, Halifax, students used their spare time to talk about what issues matter to them on campus. Open Space style Student Assembly events always discusses matters specific to the school, but also broader reveals broader interests across the province. Students NS staff are delighted to be able to listen to these conversations and use them to inspire the work we do. Always let your voice be heard! These events were made possible by funding from the Democracy 250 Youth Engagement Legacy Trust.
More stuff on the go!
 
Here are a few things staff and board members have been working on. Let us know if you have any questions about any of these projects, or if you’d like to get involved!
  1. StudentsNS staff met with NSCC students and administrators to begin our work on behalf of NSCC students.
  2. The Sexual Assault Prevention Project’s steering committee met to discuss the review and plans for its campaign.
  3. StudentsNS spoke to the SMU President’s Council regarding its work on sexual assault prevention, women’s empowerment, and building a healthy campus culture.
  4. The Mend the Gap (Women in Student Politics Project) steering committee met and continued preparations for a successful campaign year.
  5. Staff participated in University-Government Partnership working group meetings, including those concerning Access and Affordability, International Students, and Tuition Policy.
  6. Staff continue to create video content for the Students Speak Out! Campaign, giving students a chance to tell their PSE stories.
  7. Staff continued work on the Workforce of the Future Table.
  8. Work continues on StudentsNS’ upcoming position papers on education quality, campus health services, graduate students, and student and graduate employment.