Despite a few procedural stumbling blocks, the UVSS board meeting was able to push through a significant amount of business over three and a half hours Monday night. The marathon session reviewed status reports from critical student associations, and heard on several requests to garner funding from the student body.
Opening the meeting was an addendum granting official recognition of UVic Pride’s status as UVic Pride (rather than UVSS Pride), a necessary step in order for the financially distraught organization to apply for funding resources. At a later point in the meeting, UVic Pride made a review of their status and made it clear just how tighten their financial status remains following their failed referendum on Nov. 26, 2015. The motion to addendize was passed, and the new motion itself would pass as well.
The next order of business was to hear from presenters, starting with Dr. Kat Sark, a sessional instructor hoping to organize a panel to discuss feminism in the social media era with a keynote speaker imported from Germany. Her request for $3 000 to bring the keynote speaker, one Dr. Anne Wizorek, would be later denied by the board executive, in part over concerns of organization and the marginalization of diverse feminist issues, but largely because the UVSS board hasn’t got $3 000 to play around with.
The second presentation, much better received, was from University 101, “a program that offers barrier FREE, non-credit, academic courses that will introduce students to a wide range of university topics.” This program enables those in even the most punishing circumstances to access their right to education by providing transportation, child care, meals, and other basic requirements, affording dedicated participants the opportunity to change their lives. University 101 petitioned the board to establish a dedicated student fee via referendum, consisting of 75 cents for every full time student and 37 cents for every part time student. After a brief argument regarding the strategy required to convince apathetic students to undertake a fee increase (one proposal suggested two referenda in two years, each asking for a 50 cent hike in order to earn one dollar total), their motion was easily passed as writ.
The third and final presentation of the evening was made on behalf of the Travel Pool Fund, a student resource meant to help students afford the costs of extracurricular academic travel. An important resource, the pool is heavily under-funded and overused, with $3708.36 in the kitty and eight requests adding to the total of $11 700. Understandably, the board passed the motion to permit a referendum on a fee increase of 36 cents for full time students and 18 cents for part time students, per semester.
Other business included the introduction via signed petition of a special resolution motion to amend Electoral Policy such that any future changes to the policy may only be undertaken with a ⅔ majority vote in a quorate general meeting. Oh, and there was a motion for the group to adopt a kitten. Apparently, this was a joke. And, of course, this UVSS government’s ongoing mission to ensure education is a right cropped up once more, with a resolution to organize a province wide day of action in fall of 2016 being added to the next semi-annual general meeting agenda.
There were also two directors nominated and elected to attend the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) National Lobby Days in Ottawa from Feb. 3–5. Despite no longer participating in CFS, the UVSS were approached directly and asked to speak at the conference on issues of federal activism within Canadian universities. The UVSS delegation will be the only representatives from B.C. post-secondary schools at the conference, and many of the board regarded it as an honour and high recognition to be asked, despite the relatively small contingent requested. (Generally, four to six individuals from a student government would attend, but the UVSS was only offered two.) Blake Desjarlais, Native Students Union Firekeeper, and UVSS Director of External Relations Kenya Rogers were ratified to represent the UVSS following a brief skirmish in which it was revealed that of the two open spots, one had to be filled by Rogers due to old legislation in the UVSS bylaws.
Perhaps most critically, a status report from the Women’s Centre revealed that there was a very real demand on campus for the creation of a support group for victims of sexual assault.
According to the Women’s Centre representative, Anna Lusk, the situation of sexual violence on campus is far worse than reports or administration attitudes might suggest. This highlighted a perceived failure of the administration to prevent and respond to incidents of sexualized violence both on campus and in the larger community.
The next board meeting will take place on Monday, Feb. 1, at 6 p.m. in the SUB Upper Lounge. The Semi-Annual General Meeting will take place on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Corrections: A previous version of this article implied that University 101’s aim was “to reach those in the community who want to earn a post-secondary education.” We’ve edited the article to more accurately reflect University 101’s goals as stated on their website.
We’ve also clarified that Anna Lusk did not imply students weren’t doing enough to prevent sexualized violence on campus.
We have also corrected the amount of money available in the Travel Pool fund from $800 to $3708.36, and have specified how many requests have been made and their sum total.