Bill 41 poses threat to UVSS advocacy groups

On Nov. 2, two banners protesting Bill 41 were put up outside the SUB and Petch Fountain; on Nov. 3, this one had been ripped apart by unknown individuals. Photo by Myles Sauer

On Nov. 2, two banners protesting Bill 41 were put up outside the SUB and Petch Fountain; on Nov. 3, this one had been ripped apart by unknown individuals. Photo by Myles Sauer

The UVSS and affiliated student groups are mobilizing to oppose Bill 41, otherwise known as the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, which was introduced to the provincial legislature on Oct. 20. The bill has the potential to drastically affect funding for student services and programs.

According to a release from the provincial government, the bill would affect the College and Institute Act, and the University Act. These amendments, so says the release, would ensure that fees are collected from students that have resigned from a student society; the Ministry of Advanced Education will consult student societies to determine which programs and fees should be protected.

However, the bill proposes establishing two different types of student fees: a capital fee, which goes towards “buildings and facilities;” and a program or service fee, which the bill defines as “a fee for a prescribed program or a prescribed service.” While the bill ensures the collection of these fees, it doesn’t specify what will determine how services fall into each category aside from consultation with the Ministry.

This has understandably left some students and campus groups — the latter of which rely on fees collected from students to operate, and include the Anti-Violence Project, UVic Pride, and other advocacy groups — concerned about the potential outcome of those consultations. Full disclosure: the Martlet receives a student levy per term of $3.75 per full-time student, and $1.88 per part-time student. It’s unclear how these fees would be categorized in the proposed structure.

Kenya Rogers, UVSS Director of External Relations, said “folks are definitely worried.”

“There are folks working on this [at the SUB] . . . Right now, I would like to have an open committee where [members] can get together and talk about where we go from here.”

“It won’t be going to committee until next week,” Rogers said, “so we have a bit more time [to respond.]”

Rogers said there are other student societies in B.C. that saw the amendment as a victory, but she said those groups are less advocacy-focused than the UVSS. The challenge that the UVSS faces in particular is showing the provincial government how advocacy groups at the SUB go beyond simple advocacy and provide tangible services to students.

The Martlet will have more on this story as it develops.

27 Comments

Avatar Kelsoh

I don’t see anything to be worried about. The only major change is that the bill requires fee increases to be passed by referendum, and creates a process for including so-called “resigned” members, presumably because people have started to use this as a way to avoid paying student fees.

In fact this bill is pretty good for the UVSS, because it appears to be closing a loophole where students who are “not members” of their student society are still required to pay fees.

https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/40th-parliament/4th-session/bills/first-reading/gov41-1

Avatar The Martlet

The Martlet reserves the right to remove any comments that are inflammatory, abusive, and harmful in any way with respect to race, sexuality, and gender. We ask all commenters to please conduct themselves in a respectful fashion.

Avatar Noah

Surely you do not mean to imply that criticism of student paid institutions for behaving irresponsibly with student dollars constitutes abusive speech?

Avatar Noah

Perhaps the advocacy groups should make a point of showing us what good they accomplish for students so that we have an actual reason to feel pained at this impending barrier between them and our wallets.

Avatar Daphne Shaed

The advocacy groups make such points everyday. Our spaces are populated by students seeking the comfort and resources the advocacy groups provide. As well, we work on collective models that provide students with a variety of skills that translate into their studies and workplaces, learning facilitation and planning, participating in volunteer efforts both at school and in community, learning to advocate for themselves and others. As well we have many workshops and assist students and ourselves (also students).

Since the beginning of this semester We have assisted several students in finding housing, assisted a student having workplace issues, assisted students to find resources to help them in their studies, and assisted students with personal conflicts, advocated for several students who experienced issues with the university, and more. We encourage you to come by and look at the work we do. We empower people in a society that fails to do so.

Advocacy groups may only assist what seems like a small portion of students when compared to the 18,000 or more students who attend this institution, but without these groups, these students (myself included) would likely not be here, or have the opportunities to excel that other students enjoy due to a variety of diverse circumstances.

We hope this has helped you to see that we provide a vital service for students.

Avatar Noah

Not remotely. Let’s take a moment and review what you’ve offered us.

“Our spaces are populated by students” – you hide downstairs in an empty hallway. It is a rarity to see anyone going to or from your offices.

“assisted students with personal conflicts…” – Great, except that you are not trained or qualified in any such way as would justify students spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on you.

“…who experienced issues with the university” – Yeah, I saw how you people wickedly and opportunistically bullied Gillian Cornwall because you weren’t put personally in charge of a cross walk.

I don’t doubt that you personally benefit from your paid position, because you are absolutely right that the advocacy groups only assist what seems like a small portion of students:

Themselves.

Avatar Daphne Shaed

Not all of the advocacy groups are located in the basement. The advocacy groups are not hidden either, that is the space made available for them. And the spaces are well used by numerous students, not sure what times you are sitting in the halls counting people going in and out of these spaces.

Further, we are a collective of students who, as many of the materials indicate, are students helping students. No we are not a trained counsellor, we do what is called peer support, which is also an affective tool. We also refer to other services when necessary. Also, our budget is not hundreds of thousands and are avaiable from the UVSS if you would like to know the actual numbers.

As for the crosswalk. You can read about our concerns. In fact We have been working with the university over the past few months to ensure that the issues raised that day, from all parties, are addressed.

Yes I do benefit. I have been a member and volunteer for years and now serve in a paid position. Not that I feel I need to justify being paid for work, but to be transparent, yes, I currently get paid for some of the work I do at the direction of the collective. However, advocates for social justice are so often unpaid.

We help empower ourselves and others to do our best work and make the best of school, thusly ensuring that we can excel at our programs.

Sincerely,
Daphne Shaed

Avatar Noah

The AVP alone took in 71,288$ per term in 2014.
The Women’s Center took 33,861$ per term in 2014
Pride took 33,861$ per term in 2014

And you “don’t feel like you need to justify being paid for work?” You don’t feel any accountability to UVIC students? The people who pay your wage? Well forgive me a chuckle at such a ridiculous proposition. Because it’s funny.

Nice try.

Avatar Daphne Shaed

I am accountable to students. You are misunderstanding; I do not need to justice that advocates are paid. People should be paid for work. And I can see now that you not interested in a discussion, rather only trashing people and the work they do.

Avatar Noah

Please, most clubs do more “work” than you were unelected to do, and with a tiny fraction of the money you take in. You make more money than most students on campus to accomplish less than Skepvics.

Avatar Daphne Shaed

You do not know me or the work I, and others, do on a daily basis. You are insulting and cruel Noah Driver!

Avatar Noah

Spare me. Gillian Cornwall was treated insultingly and cruelly. Your “work” has been to contribute to an aggregate of alienation and hostility on this campus. You are not on the side of the angels, Daphne. Try and spin it all you like, people are getting wise.

Avatar Daphne Shaed

Everyone of your replies show your true intentions. If you want to see a bully just look in a mirror. We have tried to engage you in discussion and you continue to throw insults and inciteful language at us. If you want to have a real discussion about any of the issues here then we are more than willing to sit down with you.

Avatar Noah

When was the last time you looked in a mirror yourself, Daphne? When are YOU going to publicly apologize to the woman who you and your cohorts attacked after she offered you her hand in kindness? There’s only one bully in this thread, and she comfortably hides behind the institutions intended for the victimized, oppressed and the unprivileged, all the while collecting tithes from them.

Avatar Juliana Cooper

Isn’t it just the Pride centre that’s in the basement? I’m pretty sure the other two are upstairs. I volunteer in the basement and Pride’s always busy when I’m down there.

Avatar Noah

Everyone mentioned is down there. The UVSS area is upstairs, and that a handful of friends chill in their student paid lounge does not an argument for full time salaried facebook updaters make.

Avatar Juliana Cooper

You’re saying that one of the reasons the centres are bad is because there’s nobody in them. I report that there’s people in them regularly. You say those people don’t count. Who would count?

Avatar Noah

Students. Most of the people in the centres are activists, employees, advocacy group wmployees from Camosun. Most of the people who go down there work for the groups in some capacity and not the other way around. I have tried to engage personally with them, and they are extraordinarily unwelcoming to anyone who isn’t a part of their clique.

Avatar Noah

Honestly I don’t have any problem with the advocacy groups. My issue is that they don’t seem to actually do anything towards fulfilling their mandates. No research, no counseling… I mean “peer assistance?” Are we paying them a salary so they can be our friend? There are decent people on campus who would do this for free. And yet here we have individuals selecting their friends for jobs and then ganging up on people who they are mandated to advocate for. You must see the problem with this. Honestly, if they just weren’t so vicious I wouldn’t even be talking here. I just wouldn’t care, but they’re behaving awfully and I pay them to do it. That affects me. That matters, and it’s wrong.

Avatar Noah

This kind of sophistry is why nobody takes the advocacy groups seriously anymore. You bully students and UVIC staff for your own aggrandizement, and then ask to be paid for it.

The sheer hypocrisy is awe inspiring.

Avatar gaelle22

Advocacy groups are tremendously helpful to the student community. Just because you have not seeked their services doesn’t mean they are not serving students and helping them. Oftentimes, these groups provide support for students who are marginalized and need specific support. I suggest you grow some compassion instead of supporting the dismantlement of such a vital service to the community.

Avatar Noah

I have compassion for the men and women that the advocacy groups have recklessly attacked and for the good people whose voices they denigrate. Nobody is saying the advocacy groups need to go, but they are not fulfilling their responsibilities towards students.

Avatar Noah

You need to look at this a little more critically. I’m not saying that the advocacy groups should be scrapped. I’m saying that the way they are being run is entirely inadequate, and a large reason for this is that their staff are not democratically elected or subject to any kind of vetting besides belonging to demographics A, B and C, and perhaps also being pals with some other advocacy group staff members. Why not hire professionals who can do some truly good work and offer real counseling and advice informed by life experience? Or better yet, why not put advocacy group staff positions up to democratic vote? Because I agree, the advocacy groups fulfill a valuable role, but nothing they currently do warrants the insane amount of money we are feeding them.

Avatar Kelsoh

There’s a powerful way to reform advocacy groups that could fix many of the existing problems: Elect UVSS advocacy representatives through a general election where anyone who self-identifies within the proscribed group can vote for who they want on the UVSS board.

This would quickly shift the parochial focus of advocacy groups away from their own self-interest in the SUB.

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