FEDERAL STUDENT LOBBYING
Director of External Relations Greg Atkinson invited Jonathan Champagne, the Executive Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), to speak at the meeting. CASA, formed in 1995, is a collection of 22 student unions which seeks to provide “accessible, affordable, and high-quality post-secondary education.”
Champagne admitted that the Province of British Columbia is responsible for much of UVic’s education funding, but explained that the federal government creates policies affecting student loans, tax credits, residency visas for exchange students, and research grants.
One of CASA’s highest priorities is mental health, particularly in ending the stigmas against students suffering from depression, anxiety, and other conditions. CASA seeks to bridge the gap between universities and the federal government, allowing students to lobby politicians.
While CASA usually reserves its lobbying efforts for its members, it recently allowed a UVic delegation meet with several MPs and senators in Ottawa to discuss issues facing all Canadian post-secondary institutions, including research funding and increases for need-based grants.
MISSED WORKING DAYS
Szakacs also introduced a motion to include 15 paid vacation days for Executive Directors. Previously, executive directors were not allotted any paid leave, but were permitted to take a maximum of 10 business days “in lieu”, meaning if the executive worked more hours than they were paid (they are paid a set salary at 35 hours per week regardless of the actual number of hours worked), they could bank those days up to a maximum of 10. They could also take five additional unpaid days off for non-personal reasons, and an unspecified amount of unpaid personal leave, provided that it is approved by the Board.
This motion comes just over two months after Director of Finance and Operations Anas Cheema resigned after facing criticism from fellow board members over unpaid leaves of absence. However, in a follow-up interview, Greg Atkinson, director of finance and operations, said that this motion was not specifically motivated by that incident, and was instead intended to bring executive employment policy in line with other SUB employees. This motion also carried.
COMMITTEE AND COUNCIL REALLOCATIONS
Director of Student Affairs Kaylee Szakacs introduced a motion to abolish the Environmental Sustainability Council, the Speaker Series, and the Strategic Planning Committee immediately and to abolish the Mental Health Committee effective May 1.
She said that the Environmental Sustainability Council is redundant, as other committees engage in sustainability efforts. The Speaker Series will be absorbed by the Events Committee and the Strategic Planning Committee will be absorbed by the Finance and Operations Committee. This motion carried.
The next UVSS board meeting will be held in the SUB Upper Lounge at 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 23.