July 9, 2020
To our valued members and students at Douglas College,
We hope everyone is staying safe and taking care of themselves and each other as we move to the next stages of the COVID-19 Pandemic in BC. There are changes happening with lots of daily updates as the province takes the next steps towards opening up. We know many of you have anxiety about health concerns and personal safety. Please know that we are listening to members reaching out to us and we are working to keep everyone updated with current provincial and institutional announcements.
We continue to receive a lot of questions and inquiries about our services, spaces, and fees and we want to address your concerns to the best of our ability with the information we do know.
Since the Douglas College suspension of on campus classes and face to face services in March, we have transitioned our services to alternate delivery and are continuously working on ways to support students.
Students expressed their financial concerns to us and we worked with Douglas College to create the Emergent and Emergency Needs Fund so that financial support can be directly given to students in need right away for those in the winter and summer 2020 semester. This fund will now be available for students facing continued financial hardships throughout the fall semester!
Although access to the DSU Students’ Union Building is currently unavailable, we are working on a plan to re-open our doors for the fall semester and to provide a mixture of on-campus and online services. We are working on safety protocols in line with provincial health authority regulations that will allow students to access our building and services in person while staying safe, healthy, and maintaining social distance.
We continue to advocate and lobby on behalf of students. We hear your concerns and are working everyday to address these issues and bring forward your concerns to the College. We have heard from students their concerns about tuition and planned tuition increases. On June 25th, we submitted a letter to Douglas College calling for a tuition freeze. You can view the letter on our website here.
Unfortunately, Douglas College has decided to move forward with tuition fee increases this fall.
We are currently working with Translink, Douglas College, and 9 other post-secondary student associations and institutions from across the greater Vancouver area on the U-Pass program. We successfully negotiated a refund of April fees after classes transitioned online in response to the pandemic. As all classes in the summer semester were delivered online, the program was suspended. With a hybrid form of delivery planned for the fall, students with required in-person or in-class instruction have been assessed the fee, as per the agreement with Translink. We continue to work every day to find a solution that will provide more students with access to affordable transit for the fall semester.
We also continue to work at advocating towards a more accessible post-secondary education system for all. We will continue collaborating with the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS) on fighting to get more funding to our institutions, reducing financial barriers (such as the BC Access Grant), working with our instructors to get more adoptions of OERs to reduce the costs of academic materials, pushing for the elimination of interest on federal students loans (just like we did for BC student loans) and will be keeping up our work to push for improvements to services that students depend on.
Your Douglas Students’ Union elected representatives have been busy working on the following:
- Douglas Students’ Union Building & Office Spaces – Assessing the current health authority requirements and working on solutions to re-open the DSU building and offices for the fall semester
- Re-allocation of funds to contribute $100,000 to the Douglas College Emergent & Emergency Needs Financial Aid to get money directly to students that are in need. To apply, domestic and international students can contact Financial Aid directly at email@example.com
*Extended through the fall semester!
- U-Pass – Working with Translink, Douglas College and 9 other post-secondary institutions and their student associations to suspend the U-Pass for the summer semester while on campus courses are suspended. We successfully advocated to ensure that students who did not use their U-Pass in April received a refund. Those still requiring transit throughout the summer semester that are also facing financial difficulties can apply for aid through the Emergent and Emergency Needs Fund by discussing their situation with a Student Success Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Office hours have transitioned to online drop-in sessions through Zoom. Watch our social media and website for drop in dates and times.
- Ombudsperson Service has transitioned to alternate delivery and has been helping many students from the end of the winter semester and throughout the summer semester to navigate issues and concerns emerging from the transition to online delivery. The service continues to be available by email, phone, video calls, and drop in sessions through ZOOM. Students can contact the Ombudsperson directly http://www.thedsu.ca/our-services/ombudsperson/ or watch our social media and website for drop in dates and times.
- Services to support you while you are off campus: Health & Dental Plan (including Legal Assistance Plan), GOeVisit Healthcare, Deals App, Emergency Food Bank, DS App (Housing Listings) http://www.thedsu.ca/services/
- Other Financial Aid – DSU Mature Students’ Bursary, DSU Domestic Student Award (available through Douglas College Financial Aid) email@example.com
- Student Advocacy at the college level – we are communicating with Douglas College every day to relay student concerns and lobbying them for answers
- Student Advocacy at the provincial and federal level (along with the BCFS) – we are communicating with the Ministry of Advanced Education and the Government of BC the needs of students and lobbying them for more financial and mental health support for students. On April 16, Here2Talk was launched by the provincial government to provide free, confidential, 24/7 mental health counselling service for students. Access the service on their website https://here2talk.ca/
- Information gathering & communicating directly with students through our various channels to answer questions and provide information to navigate our new environment due to COVID-19. Please check our webpage for updates http://www.thedsu.ca/covid-19/
We are listening and will continue to listen to you and your concerns. We know that students are worried and we are doing our best to not only gather information but also advocating for students behind the scenes. We appreciate that students are reaching out, talking to us and sharing with us.
Thank you for your understanding and patience while we continue to work to support you as best as we can during this crisis and transition.
We look forward to welcoming you all back for the fall semester, be it in person or digitally, and to keep meeting the ever changing needs of our members.
If you have questions or would like to access our services, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Your Douglas Students’ Union Board of Directors