Campus briefs: spring break moved, pipeline motion stalled

Campus News

CORRECTIVE: The Martlet erroneously reported in its Oct. 18 issue that the UVic Senate “voted by majority to move reading break from Feb. 18–22 to Feb. 11–15, 2013.” In fact, the reading break will not be moved until February 2014. The 2013 reading break will still take place from Feb. 18–22

2014 Spring reading break changed to coincide with new statutory holiday

In response to the potential loss of another Monday in the spring term for B.C.’s new statutory holiday, Family Day, the UVic Senate voted on Oct. 5 to move the 2014 spring reading break. A reading break that would have spanned the third full week of February will now run the second full week of that month, overlapping Family Day.

The concern was that before the introduction of the new stat, it was already difficult to get enough time in Monday labs, classes and learning activities, so instructors and students couldn’t afford to lose another session.

Student Senator David Foster said that students he had discussed the matter with were opposed to moving reading break; that where the government had given a holiday, the university was taking it away; and that if the Senate could extend a president’s term beyond two years (referring to David Turpin being in the third year of his term), it could give students a holiday.

One senator pointed out that reading break is actually a work period set aside for study and greatly needed by many of her students, and that by moving reading break to overlap a statutory holiday, the university is not giving a holiday at all.

The Senate voted by majority to move reading break from Feb. 17–21 to Feb. 10–14, 2014, as proposed. Student senators David Foster and Gabrielle Sutherland asked that their opposition be noted.

AGM vote on UVSS’s position on Gateway Pipeline shut down at board level

A motion initiated on Oct. 1 would have brought the University of Victoria Students’ Society’s (UVSS) position on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project to an all-members vote at the Oct. 18 Annual General Meeting (AGM). The motion was put forth at a not regularly scheduled UVSS Board meeting by UVSS Chairperson Emily Rogers and Director of External Relations Lucia Orser but was voted down after discussion.

The motion was for students at the AGM to vote either to adopt or reject a position of opposition to the Northern Gateway Pipeline project and support for people in the affected communities.

Orser said that a number of anti-tanker motions have passed at the Board level before, but they can get lost from year to year due to annual Board turnover, while an AGM vote would have solidified the UVSS position on this issue so that it could only be changed by another membership vote. She said the Northern Gateway Pipeline project is an issue that’s relevant to students and the community, that an AGM vote is the most democratic way to come to a position on it and that such action is not unprecedented.

Newly appointed Society for Students with a Disability (SSD) representative Leah Grantham asked Board members if they were familiar with the phrase, “Nothing about us without us,” following up with the question of whether or not anyone had spoken with relevant groups. Rogers answered no, but said that the motion could be passed on condition of consultation.

Director-at-Large Andrew Fortune said passing the motion without consulting the people referred to in it “undermines those actively involved in resistance,” that it is “neoliberal, not consensual,” and that it would implicate the UVSS in discourse that doesn’t show solidarity; rather, it contains solidarity in passivity. Rogers said the point of the motion was to take the question to the full membership and receive direction and instruction on how to engage in consultation and adopt an issues policy on the Northern Gateway Pipeline project.

Director of Finance and Operations Ariel Tseng said the motion was an opportunity to put the weight of the UVSS’s 16 000 members behind its position at a time when it could be relevant.

The motion would have to have passed at the Oct. 1 meeting to abide by rules that AGM business be ratified two weeks before the meeting, to give members time to get informed. Running short of time, the Board called to question and, with five in favour, the motion failed. The UVSS membership will not have opportunity to vote on its position unless the matter appears on the agenda for a future general meeting.