What’s up with the UVSS? Introducing new directors and their campus-wide initiatives

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All about the organization your student fees pay for

Collage of UVSS Campus Kick Off posters and directors' photos
Graphic by Betty Sileshi

Students will be back on campus this fall and so will their student government. The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS), which represents over 19 000 undergraduates and operates independently from UVic, has been busy getting ready for the year ahead. 

The UVSS is composed of five full-time, paid lead directors, each with a specific portfolio, and 11 directors-at-large, who receive honoraria and assist with lead directors’ work. There is also a Director of International Student Relations, a part-time, unpaid position with the UVSS. These board members are elected every spring, with this year’s board taking office in May 2021. 

Together, the board manages the UVSS’s $15.5 million budget — most of which comes from student fees. 

Marran Dodds, the director of outreach and university relations, said the UVSS board started their term “with both feet on the ground, running.” 

Dodds is one of five lead directors, joined by Director of Finance and Operations Dipayan Nag, Director of Campaigns and Community Relations Robin Pollard, Director of Events Q Roxas, and Director of Student Affairs Mariel Hernández. Joshua Fassnacht is this year’s Director of International Student Relations. 

The board spent their summer working on campaigns and ongoing projects, adjusting policies, and planning for the fall.

Some of the campaigns they worked on this summer included the Community Immunity campaign and Shift Our Campus Campaign. The lead directors focused on social media outreach for the Community Immunity Town Hall event to encourage students to get vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Shift Our Campus Campaign will advocate for anti-discrimination. Pollard plans to improve the BIPOC Support Hub on the UVSS website. She is supporting the creation of a report summarizing results from last year’s BIPOC student survey. In the fall, Pollard hopes to continue working on other ongoing campaigns like Rethink Mental Health and Rent with Rights.

The UVSS also launched a survey on student experiences of anti-Asian racism, which Pollard said will be useful for collecting information about how UVic can create safer student spaces.

The board spent the summer preparing for in-person events and advocating for an accessible return to campus. Dodds is responsible for lobbying UVic on these measures, in collaboration with some of the other directors and the Society for Students with a Disability (SSD) Access4All campaign.

In their August meeting, the UVSS passed a draft budget, documenting what they spent this summer and expect to spend in the upcoming school year. Some of the items are eye-catching: in June, the board spent $4 300 on an ice machine for Bean There, and in July they had $33 000. When asked by the Martlet, the board clarified this was for “swag” for the upcoming school year.

In the budget, the UVSS has allocated $10 000 for conferences and travel, with the hope that the pandemic will allow for those expenditures.

With the return to campus, the UVSS has also put together some in-person events for students. Campus Kick Off will begin this week, with a movie night in the quad, pancake breakfast, and a Bands on the Roof concert series. Campus Kick Off will also be followed by Clubs and Course Union Days on Sept. 15-16.