SA releases priorities for 2023-24 with affordable housing at the top of the list

The Students’ Association recently released its priorities for the academic year, with affordable and accessible housing across all campuses taking the top spot. For Ally McDonald, housing is easily the top priority for the SA. “I was in my first week here and I actually ended up being homeless and I was really struggling,” said […]
Photo: Rebekah Houter
Health and fitness program students (from left to right) Lane Dixson, Ryan Brown, Ben Tease, and Nathan Stephenson weigh in on the SA's priorities.

The Students’ Association recently released its priorities for the academic year, with affordable and accessible housing across all campuses taking the top spot.

For Ally McDonald, housing is easily the top priority for the SA.

“I was in my first week here and I actually ended up being homeless and I was really struggling,” said McDonald, a student in the music industry program.

She said she talked with two others in similar situations: one person in her program and one in a different course.

“It’s why I’m behind so much in my classes right now,” McDonald said, adding it makes it harder when not everyone is willing to rent to students.

“And of course, like looking at Ottawa for our housing it’s just terrible. It’s near $2,500 for a one or two-bedroom, which is just out of everybody’s price line,” McDonald said.

According to a report from Rentals.ca last month, the average price for a one bedroom apartment rental in Ottawa was $2,058 and a two bedroom was priced at $2,521.

Housing was one of six priorities identified by the SA, with the complete list below taken from a press release:

  1. A dignified, accessible, and
    affordable housing experience across all campuses that reflects the values
    of Algonquin College.
  2. Improving academic delivery to
    create evolving and equitable learning experiences.
  3. Broadened accessibility to college
    facilities and resources.
  4. Bridging the gap between
    domestic and international students to create a memorable, successful, and
    equitable student experience.
  5. Sustainable campuses.
  6. Efficient and cost-effective
    transportation services on all campuses.

The Algonquin Times reached out to the SA for an interview or a statement, but at the time of writing received no comment on the subject.

McDonald said the accessibility offered at the school is also of top importance and the reason she is at Algonquin in the first place.

“I struggle with ADHD and autism so it’s really a tough go when you’re trying to learn academic-wise because you need multiple different ways to learn and not every single teacher can teach in a way that you can understand,” McDonald said.

“The help with the accessibility is great and that was the main thing I was told over and over was you’ll do better at Algonquin because you’ll get the support you need.”

International student Lacy Metneo is from Congo and is in the business management program with a minor in computer science. He said out of all the priorities, affordable student housing was the most important as he found it hard to find a home near the campus.

Metneo said he’s “really interested” in the student housing priority.

He also said making more events specifically for international students would be a great way to help bridge the gap between the different students.

Although the SA is not responsible for carrying out the priorities, its job is to bring students’ concerns to the college.

According to the press release from the SA, the organization plans to connect with students through events, class representative meetings and focus groups for feedback.

Some students say an easier transition to college should be a priority as well as rising food cost on campus.

Ryan Brown from the health and fitness program said he would like the SA to know “they do good things with the signs, you can see where you are going, but maybe cheaper stuff in the store, cheaper food.

Brown said “there’s some expensive food. Students are pretty broke.”

His classmate in the program agreed.

“I would just say maybe a little bit more instruction on the first couple days at school, you do get a little bit lost,” Ben Tease said.

He said it’s easier now being a month into school.

“The signs help for sure. But the first couple of days trying to get to know where I needed to go to get books, what books I needed, like how to access the ACSIS and stuff, I felt coming from high school, I needed just a little bit more support than what we got,” Tease said.

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