After a hot summer, students are returning to their campuses for the Fall semester. Although, many students have been on campus in some capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, for most they will finally get the full experience of attending post-secondary in-person.

With most courses to be delivered in-person and most campus activities making a comeback the fall 2022 semester promises to be among the most vibrant in recent memory, filled with opportunities for new experiences and connections.

We know the student experience is diverse, and that’s why the Federation has been working to include all experiences in the advocacy and lobbying that we do.

What will it look like being back on-campus this Fall?

Returning to campus means going to welcome back events held by your students’ union, it means building connections with other students and making sure your concerns are heard and applied. Students’ unions are here to provide services, advocate for your needs and are essential in making sure you have the best on-campus experience.

One of the greatest feelings about being on-campus is knowing your students’ union is there for you and ready to listen. That’s why it is important for you to use your voice and advocate for what you think your students’ union should be providing you with and focusing on.

If you have an idea for an event, club or cultural day, share it! If you want to see your students’ union advocate for different campaigns or adapt their services to improve your experience on campus, let them know!

Why should students get involved on-campus?

We know how impactful the student body is in creating meaningful change and fully returning to campuses will allow us to amplify the needs of students across the province. As students, we are the ones with the lived experience; we are the ones that can best advocate for what we believe is important.

For decades, students have been leaders in pushing for change and securing many wins that benefit those enrolled in and wanting to access post-secondary. Most recently, the creation of the BC Access Grant, an up-front, needs-based grant program for post-secondary students, the implementation of Here2Talk, a free 24/7 mental health service for students, the elimination of interest on BC student loans and the doubling of funding for the Canada Student Grants program until the end of July 2023.

The Federation and students across the province, for many years, have been actively asking for a funding review to assess how public post-secondary institutions are funded in BC – and we finally got it!

While these are great milestones, students must continue to advocate to the government for increased funding to ensure education is accessible for current and future generations in all parts of British Columbia, especially rural areas.

The cost of being a student is high and goes far beyond tuition fees and textbooks; students are facing the ever-increasing expenses of living, costly groceries and negative real wage growth. We know that students are struggling to pay their bills while trying to succeed in their studies.

To add onto the issue of affordability, many students are struggling with finding affordable housing due to their limited budgets and high demand. This is an on-going issue that is getting worse every year. We need to do better because students are the future of this province, and we need to be set up for success.

There are many ways to get involved on your campus:
  • When your students’ union is tabling, go and chat with them. The people who represent you want to hear what you have to say and vice versa. It is always great to connect and share your experiences as a student to help guide your students’ union so they can better support you as a member. Don’t forget to grab some free food or students’ union swag when you say hi.
  • Volunteer on-campus! Of course, this is only possible if you are not working three jobs to pay the bills, and have the time and mental capacity to do so. But volunteering is a great way to support students on campus while building meaningful relationships and positively impacting the student experience.
  • Run in your students’ union election. The voices the student movement needs at the table are often the ones that go unheard. Say it again. If you have lived experiences that have made it more difficult for you to thrive in post-secondary, you will not only be speaking about yourself, but for many other students who aren’t able to get involved, or who haven’t been able to access the post-secondary system yet.

This semester marks a new beginning, a new era, and a new opportunity to reimagine what being a student SHOULD look like and what supports our students’ unions, faculty, institutions and governments can provide in order for us to have a student experience of our own making. The pandemic taught us that change does not need to happen at a glacial pace, and that we don’t have to sit back and wait for things to be fixed. Together, we can accomplish amazing things on our campuses. This semester, let us all commit to dreaming big, supporting one another and audaciously pursuing our post-secondary education goals.

Welcome back to campus – we can’t wait to see what this year brings for you!

Melissa Chirino


BCFS Chairperson, Advocate & International student from Curaçao