April 15, 2020

To Douglas College Students,

We have received a lot of questions and inquiries about the Students’ Union fees and we want to address your concerns. Although access to the DSU Students’ Union Building is currently unavailable, we want you all to know that we are still here working for you and want to help bring a better understanding of where your fees are going as we have transitioned all of our services online.

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.

As we navigate our new reality and our future along with you, we are planning for new ways to deliver services and support students – we will continue this work over the summer and into the fall and take this opportunity to find new and innovative ways to deliver services to you in collaboration with the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS). We are also making plans for campus life initiatives including support for our clubs.

We continue to advocate and lobby on behalf of students. We hear your current concerns and are working everyday to address these issues and bring forward your concerns to the College. We do not have all the answers but we are working to provide updates when information becomes available.

We also continue to work at advocating towards a more accessible post-secondary education system for all. We will continue collaborating with the 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:

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, students can contact Douglas College Financial Aid directly at financialaid@douglascollege.ca

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 continue to work on ensuring that students not using their U-Pass in April will receive 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 financialaid@douglascollege.ca

Ombudsperson Service has transitioned to alternate delivery – available by email, phone and video calls. Students can contact the Ombudsperson directly http://www.thedsu.ca/ourservices/ombudsperson/

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 – financialaid@douglascollege.ca

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

Information gathering and 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.

If you have questions or would like to access our services, please contact info@thedsu.ca

Douglas Students’ Union Board of Directors