Club proposal met with skepticism at board meeting

Campus News
Photo by the Martlet.
Photo by the Martlet

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly referred to Saul Brown as the board representative for the Native Students Union. It was in fact Blake Desjarlais who was in attendance representing the NSU. We sincerely regret this error. 

In a board meeting on Monday, Oct. 26, that saw two new advocacy group representatives added to the board, the regular discussion of vacant positions in several committees, and a debate on the allocation of the UVSS’ academic grant funds, most  of the time was spent discussing a proposal from Rapture Events, which, from the accounts of several directors discussing the proposition afterwards, did not leave the board impressed.

The meeting started, however, with the introduction of two new members to the UVSS board: Aaron El Sabrout was ratified as the new Students of Colour Collective (SOCC) rep, and Sara Maya will also attend UVSS board meetings as the representative for UVic Pride.

What followed was the presentation from Rapture Events, led by Pierre Noujeim and Dane Broere, and a lengthy discussion of their proposal.

Rapture Events were speaking with the board in order to become UVic’s first for-profit club. Considering UVic’s history with external for-profit organizations (the fact that there are no such organizations on UVic’s campus makes the university one in a small minority across Canada) this would be a unique deal.

Atmos Events, a separate third-party events planner had been used before, but, for reasons largely unexplained at the meeting, the UVSS were unwilling to conduct any more business with the organization.

However, there was some tension when it became clear Rapture Events did not fully understand either the concerns or the rules of the UVSS. When asked why they wanted club status, rather than remain a third-party events organizer, Noujeim and Broere cited an avoidance of a $5 000 booking fee — a fee, as pointed out by UVSS General Manager Dale Robertson, that does not exist.

In an email after the meeting, Kaylee Szakacs, Director of Student Affairs, clarified that while clubs do get to book the SUB space at no cost, Rapture’s proposed events would’ve been exempt from those booking policies.

“Club or not, groups that wish to have club-like, all-ages events need to go through the Events Committee and get approval there,” she said.

Concerns were also raised over Rapture failing to mention any sort of safe spaces, defined by Szakacs as “a space where people of all genders and backgrounds feel included,” and can participate “without hindering their mental, physical, and emotional health.” Rapture took it to mean physical security, reiterating that there would be external security at their events.

Noujeim and Broere were also unable to provide satisfactory information for the board on whether or not they thought their events would promote rape culture. While they assured the board that they would be happy to hammer out the little details, they seemed confused by the questions, and, as one director-at-large pointed out afterwards, they seemed to lack “the vocabulary” needed to discuss or understand the UVSS’ concerns.

After the presentation, and with the representatives out of the room, most directors agreed that some form of sensitivity training would have to be conducted by Rapture Events before any further discussion, although some directors expressed doubt that Rapture would agree to the training or take the training seriously.

While most other business was conducted without much debate, there was some discussion regarding a proposal from the Undergraduates of Political Science (UPS).

The UPS were asking for $6 000 from the UVSS academic grant fund to host students from other universities across Canada in the Mariott Hotel, located in downtown Victoria, for a conference hosted in part by UVic and by the Canadian Political Science Students’ Association.

While Szakacs assured the board the figure wasn’t outrageous, some board members, including Blake Desjarlais, the Native Students Union board representative, was concerned with the theme of the conference as suggested by its name: Modern Discourses on Sovereignty: Land, Bodies and Borders. The Martlet was unable to confirm what these specific concerns were at press time.

The board agreed with Brown to table the UPS’ proposal until a representative could attend a board meeting and assure the board the conference’s theme was in keeping with standards held by the UVSS.

The next board meeting is on Nov. 2, at 6 p.m., in the SUB Upper Lounge.