UVSS Board meeting recaps

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What happened at the Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 meetings

The UVSS Board of Directors has met on the past few Monday nights, Sept. 25 and Oct. 2, which means decisions have been made, votes have been cast, and tears have been shed. For those of you who didn’t attend (because, let’s face it, nobody did), here’s what you missed:

The Anti-Violence Project will hold referendum to try and increase fees

Representing the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) at the Sept. 25 meeting, Kenya Rogers proposed a referendum to increase the student fees allocated to the AVP. According to Rogers, the AVP became a group in the SUB in 1996, and the only other fee referendum they have held was in 1998. Since then, she says, both the campus and economy have changed drastically.

“We’ve taken on a much larger role on campus,” she said. “We’ve had to increase staff to meet the increased demands.”

Without an increase in funding, Rogers warned, the AVP will be unable to continue providing their services on campus: services including  consent training workshops. Rogers said there is a huge demand on campus for these workshops, especially when professors encourage their students to participate. However, the AVP can’t keep up with this demand with their limited resources.

The AVP currently receives $2 per semester from full-time students and $1 per semester from part-time students. This is what they have received from students for the past two decades, despite inflation and increased demands for their services.

The fee increase would allow the AVP to expand their education and support programs, including continuing to hire and train staff and volunteers, providing one-on-one support for students, and facilitating workshops, in order to support the campus community and those impacted by sexualized and gender-based violence.

“Having access to education and supports around sexualized violence is extremely important,” said Rogers.

Following her presentation, the UVSS Board voted in favour of holding a referendum later this fall. They further voted to endorse the “yes” side of the referendum, voicing their support for the work done by the AVP. In early November, students will have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they support increasing their contribution to the AVP by $2 per semester for full-time students and $1 for part-time students (making the contribution $4 and $2  per semester, respectively).

In this vein, the Board announced that they will not be pursuing a fall referendum to vote on whether to increase the Health and Dental plan fee in exchange for better benefits, citing insufficient time. This referendum will instead be held in the spring. As they have already hired someone to run a referendum this November, the Board decided that holding the AVP referendum now makes financial sense.

Board supports student taking on B.C. health system

The second presentation on Sept. 25 was by Lilia Zaharieva, a UVic student with Cystic Fibrosis.

Zaharieva told the board about her journey with Orkambi — a drug that has immensely improved her ability to breathe. Before Orkambi, she says, she was struggling to even make it to classes. Graduating wasn’t just a milestone — it was on her bucket list. After starting Orkambi, however, life after university was within her sights.

“I had plans for the first time,” she smiled, saying that while on Orkambi, she put on a healthy weight and was spending 60 per cent less time in the hospital.

As the Martlet reported on Oct. 2, Zaharieva recently discovered Orkambi is no longer covered by the UVSS after the society switched health plans. The drug costs $250 000 every year; she joked to the board that even by cutting avocado toast from her diet she can’t afford this absurd price tag.

Without Orkambi, Zaharieva’s health will decline sharply. She asked for the Board’s help in petitioning both the Ministry of Health to provide her a short-term compassion supply — saying they have done this in other circumstances for drugs that cost as much as, or more than, Orkambi — and to negotiate with the drug manufacturer.

The UVSS Board unanimously voted in support of launching a petition to motivate the provincial government to take action and assist Lilia and others with cystic fibrosis who depend on Orkambi. It asks the provincial government “to begin negotiations so the drug can be adopted under Fair Pharmacare as other countries have done.”

Ireland, Italy, and France all cover Orkambi in their national health coverage plans.

The petition has been shared by individual board members and can be found on the UVSS Facebook page and change.org.

“I can’t fight this myself,” pled Zaharieva. ”I have 39 per cent lung function as it is. I have a lot of spirit, but I can’t do it all.”

You can read more about Zaharieva’s story on page 3 and page 6.

Celebration for ASL’s 200th year anniversary 

A number of smaller discussions also arose during the Sept. 25 meeting.

The SSD is promoting its two upcoming events: a Sign Language Celebration hosted by the ASL club (Oct. 6), and a workshop on respect and ableism, hosted with the AVP (Oct. 13). The Celebration marks the 200 anniversary of ASL. It will be held in the Michelle Pujol room starting at 1 p.m. on Oct. 6 and will include workshops, a panel, and refreshments. More information about the Celebration can be found on the event’s Facebook page. The workshop will centre on anti-oppression work. At the time of writing, there were 13 spaces left in the workshop. To register or to learn more, visit the SSD office in SUB B111.

Cameron McLeod has resigned as a Director at Large (DaL), due to personal reasons. According to Interim Director of Outreach & University Relations Pierre-Paul Angelblazer, the only way to add new members to the Board is through a costly by-election. In an email to the Martlet, Angelblazer said the board didn’t feel this cost was necessary for filling a DaL position. As a result, a DaL by-election will not be held, and McLeod’s position will stay vacant for the remainder of the term.

Board hoping to loosen definition of required promoting of events

At the Oct. 2 meeting, the Board voted to allocate $700 to cover the fees of student refugees attending future job placement summits in Vancouver. According to Dheeraj Alamchandani, director of international students relations, the price of such summits is usually around $425, but negotiations have brought the price down to approximately $125. The $700 will cover the remaining fees of five refugee students; the selection of attendees will be facilitated by the World University Service of Canada (WUSC). The board did not, however, specify where this money would come from.

Also at this meeting, the Board approved what topics would make it onto the AGM agenda for the meeting later this month (Oct. 26). One such potential policy change was a motion to scrap the clause that requires the UVSS to give students 14 days’ notice of AGMs, referenda, and other special meetings — in effect no longer necessitating a half-page ad in the Martlet and at least 100 posters up on campus.

When asked for comment after the meeting, Angelblazer said this change was proposed because the UVSS wanted to have more flexibility with how they advertise those events.

It’s a good thing, then, that those meetings are already well-attended and that the UVSS is consistently able to make quorum at AGMs and SAGMs.

(If only that were true.)

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