As students prepare to vote on motions related to the Build SFU projects at the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS)’s Special General Meeting (SGM) this Wednesday, January 21, some students are calling for the projects’ termination.
No to Build SFU has advocated over the past few months for greater dissemination of information related to the projects, which include the Student Union Building (SUB) and the Stadium.
If students vote to approve the debenture on Wednesday, the SFSS will be able to pursue a loan for the projects, with construction on the SUB scheduled to begin this summer.
No to Build SFU began calling for greater transparency following the SFSS’ Annual General Meeting (AGM) on October 22, 2014. The meeting reached full capacity before all students were able to enter the SFU Theatre, making some students unable to vote on two motions related to the Build SFU projects.
“The AGM was just kind of the last straw where I saw that they weren’t providing a venue for a vote, for students to be informed on both sides of the issue, and to decide for themselves,” explained Kaitlyn MacInnis, a fourth year history student. “We’re just trying to provide a counterbalance.”
The four students spearheading the campaign are also concerned with what they consider to be a lack of dissemination of information related to the project, as well as a perceived preferential treatment of student athletes at the AGM.
“We’re just trying to provide a counterbalance.”
Kaitlyn MacInnis, fourth year history student
Selina Wall, a fourth year history student, stated, “We’ve heard a lot of reports that athletes were let in ahead of other students at the AGM, and that’s really troubling because they have such a vested interest in the Stadium being built.”
Zied Masmoudi, SFSS VP Student Services, admitted that some athletes were let in in front of other students in line, but only because they had briefly left the line and returned. “There was no privilege given to students,” Masmoudi stated. “There wasn’t any special treatment towards anybody. I think what happened was just blown out of proportion.”
When asked if the SFSS had specifically targeted student athletes when advertising the AGM, he replied, “We tried to reach out to everybody.”
Masmoudi continued, “We happen to have two athletes on our board, so that’s obviously an important part of the outreach, but I don’t think that we mainly focused our outreach on the athletes because they would vote in favour or something like that.”
This time, the SFSS is hosting their meeting in the largest indoor venue on Burnaby Campus, the West Gym, which they hope will accommodate all interested students.
“We think that by hosting the SGM in a bigger venue, then hopefully everyone will be able to come in, voice their concerns, and vote,” explained Masmoudi.
“There was no privilege given to students. There wasn’t any special treatment towards anybody.”
Zied Masmoudi, SFSS VP student services
Another demographic of students the Society is attempting to engage are those who attend SFU’s satellite campuses. Earlier this month, SFU Senate agreed to encourage professors to grant academic amnesty to students who would otherwise have to miss class to attend the meeting.
For Melissa Lee, a third year english and history double major, this is not adequate: “Students, especially in the performing arts, [. . .] are obligated to be at those campuses all day rehearsing.”
Masmoudi told The Peak that the SFSS looked into the feasibility of installing mobile voting stations at those campuses, but that it was ultimately not an option due to a lack of resources.
“We tried to do our best to accommodate everyone,” said Masmoudi. “At the end of the day, it’s a meeting. It’s not a referendum where people can vote over a couple of days. It’s a meeting and the notion of a meeting is people get together in a room and make a decision.”
For the No to Build SFU team, they explained that their mission is purely to educate voters.
“We really want students to come out to the SGM and to make an informed choice,” Wall told The Peak. “Ideally, we don’t want approval for the loan to pass. Ultimately I think we’re looking to put an end to the project.”
MacInnis added, “If that’s what students want.”
The SGM will be held on Wednesday at 1:30pm in the West Gym, with registration opening at 12:30pm.