Why TRU, UBCO students are flooding B.C. Premier with hundreds of Valentines - InfoNews

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Why TRU, UBCO students are flooding B.C. Premier with hundreds of Valentines

Leif Douglass, Manuela Ceballos and Kole Lawrence show off their Valentine's Day cards.
Image Credit: TWITTER / Thompson Rivers University Students' Union
February 14, 2020 - 8:00 AM

B.C. Premier John Horgan might be flattered with the number of Valentine's he receives today, at least until he opens them.

The Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union has been advocating for a provincial needs-based grants program for over a decade, and chose a unique way to put the moves on him.

Kole Lawrence, vice president of the students’ union, says hundreds of valentines have been sent to the provincial leader as part of their Grants Not Loans campaign.

“This has been our last planned piece for the whole campaign that we’ve been working on,” Lawrence says. “Since the provincial budget comes out Feb. 18, this was a good idea to wrap it up into the theme of Valentine’s Day.”

Lawrence says the students’ union communications coordinator created the design and shared it with around a dozen other universities and colleges who are also advocating for the grant program. Students at UBC Okanagan, Vancouver Island University and Vancouver Community College penned their own message or poem to John Horgan.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by TRU Students' Union (@trusu15) on

“It's like a text and we were basically being left on 'read' for the past ten years while we were trying to get the grants program and then there's the dot, dot, dot thing you get on the iPhone, as if we don't know what's going to happen on Feb. 18, like ‘Let's hope we’re not getting ghosted again.’ It’s a cute little valentine,” Lawrence says.

The valentine mimicked a ten-year long one-sided test message conversation, with broken hearts sent from the students’ union to the government every February. On the reverse, students wrote messages such as “Roses are red, violets are blue, Alberta has need-based grants, B.C. should too.” Another poem reads, "It was time to go studying, I didn’t know what to do, I wanted to be someone, as perfect and special as you. I sat there and panic, the answer came in a flash, along with warm loving thoughts, give me some Cold, Hard Cash! (grants)."

Lawrence says between the participating universities, hundreds of letters were sent to the legislature, and arrived on Thursday. He is hopeful to see their wishes met after an aggressive year and a half of campaigning for the issue.

Lawrence says last spring, the students’ union met with the Select Standing Committee of Finance and Government to share their plan. The committee is comprised of MLAs from across the province who listen to the needs of various organizations, and then write a report of recommendations to the federal government. Lawrence says their last meeting with the committee proved to be successful, as their recommendation was included in the report.

Last autumn, the students’ union has been informing students of their campaign, and sharing photos of those who agree with the message. The photos were shared to their Twitter page, and each photo was tagged with the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, Melanie Mark.

“We had a provincial meeting, the annual general meeting for the students’ unions across B.C. with the (British Columbia Federation of Students) a month or so ago.... She did call us out in the middle of this huge room to say, ‘Thank you, I hear you, I appreciate all the work that you guys have done, you guys have bombarded my social media for like three months now, every day, three times a day, so thanks for that.’ It was a poke at us I think, but… She pointed at the possibility and the hope that she has as well for developing a grant program,” Lawrence says.

Lawrence says he hears and sees plenty of everyone is supportive of the idea. The needs-based grant system would allow people from low-income families a chance to access education, and although there are financial assistance programs in place, he says the grant system would allow the students to have the money before tuition is due, and wouldn’t leave the students with unmanageable debt after graduating.

“It makes it so students can get in university and stay in university until they finish their studies,” Lawrence says. “It's not a win for anyone when a student comes into university and does not see through their education.”

Lawrence says if a needs-based grant program isn’t implemented, they will continue to advocate to have the same accessibility to education as other Canadian provinces.

“It's the most efficient use of public money, for real.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Wheeler or call (250) 819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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