On Jan. 14, the UVSS approved four sets of questions to be held in a referendum in conjunction with the 2019 elections.
Among the four referenda questions students can vote for in this year’s elections, one question asks students to vote on establishing a new position whose role would be to guide, represent, and interact with undergraduate and graduate students in matters that deal with official appeals administration policies. This position would be co-funded and co-overseen by both the UVSS and Graduate Students’ Society (GSS).
“Every time a student has an issue, they have to learn on the fly how to navigate these things and so often many students don’t have the time, knowledge, or experience to try and appeal the sorts of decisions that can negatively impact them,” says Jordan Gilson, the official proponent of the referendum question.
The position would be funded by $1.50 fee from full-time students and $0.75 from part-time students.
There wasn’t necessarily a single event which sparked the idea to create the Student Advocate position — Gilson says it’s been more like an accumulation of many events over the years that some officials don’t have the time to handle.
“Every year, students come into conflict with the university on several different fronts and unfortunately the Ombudsperson is not always able to help for many reasons. Some of this has to do with their role as being an advocate for a fair process as opposed to directly advocating for students, some of it also has to do with the time constraints associated with only having one position to service a campus that has been growing for years.”
The Student Advocate will have an office on campus, contact information, and will be able to assist students in any formal complaints with the university — ranging from academic disputes or housing appeals to parking and library fines.
The UVSS board have officially endorsed the ‘yes’ side of the referendum.
UPDATED: This article was updated on March 6 at 4:12 p.m.