Board approves $1,860 to send four members to the student union conference held by UBC AMS
At the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) Board of Directors meeting on June 8, the Board carried the motion to send four Board members to the Student Union Development Summit (SUDS) 2018 held by UBC’s Alma Mater Society (AMS). $1,860 was approved to buy four tickets, with the possibility of sending two additional Board members to be discussed at a later date.
According to SFSS president Jas Randhawa, who attended the conference the previous year, “the biggest value [of attending the conference is] networking with other student leaders.” Vice-president university relations Jackson Freedman mentioned that the previous year’s SUDS was where the SFSS was first exposed to Campus Vibe, which is the new platform the SFSS is now planning to implement for campus student groups.
The Board members to be sent to the conference were also tasked with presenting a post-conference back to Board report detailing what they had learned.
Board discusses SFSS applying to obtain charitable status with CRA
The proposal for the SFSS to apply to obtain charitable status with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) was brought forth by the Society’s Campaigns, Research, and Policy Coordinator Pierre Cassidy. “I think it’s a really neat way to start looking at alternative funding models and easing the burden on students,” said Cassidy.
SFSS Chief Executive Officer Martin Wyant echoed Cassidy’s sentiments, stating that charity status will allow the Society to reach out the individual donor community to sponsor initiatives as well as access various grant funding that is provided nationwide to charitable organizations. “Many of the things [the SFSS does] are things that you would traditionally see in the charitable sector,” said Wyant, citing the food bank program as an example. According to Wyant, payment for that program currently requires significant contributions from students.
Wyant also spoke on how obtaining its own charitable status will allow the SFSS greater independence from SFU: “Right now, if there is anything in the charitable side we want to do, we have to run it through SFU. And they have to decide whether or not they’re going to allow us to do [it] because it’s their charitable status.” According to Wyant, in addition to avoiding the process of obtaining SFU approval, the SFSS will also be able to pursue donors that they may not currently be allowed to. “If [the university] see[s] that we are pursuing donors that they also would like to pursue, then they can [currently] say no,“ he said.
The discussion culminated with an agreement for Cassidy to organize a formal application which will be brought back to Board for review at a later date.
Board discusses food security research proposal
The research, brought to Board by Cassidy, would be a collaboration between SFSS and SFU to review the SFSS’s food bank program and food insecurity on campus in general. “The cost of the program has been expanding significantly as more people have become aware and so it’s not very sustainable as it’s currently designed,” Cassidy said.
Wyant added that the research project would be beneficial in helping SFSS gain concrete data on what food insecurity looks like for SFU students: “We’ve heard anecdotal reports over the years that students are currently experiencing significant poverty conditions but we have no data that’s been collected and we need it.
“We know that the university is expensive, that many students struggle. We believe that certain groups of students likely struggle more. [. . .] But I think we need to get a good handle on that part of it.”
According to Wyant, the results of the report would be communicated back to Board in the form of recommendations with respect to how effective the current food bank program on campus is, and possible alternatives determined after looking into best practices implemented in other food bank services across Canada.
Vice-president student services Samer Rihani brought up the lack of screening in the current food bank program as an area of improvement that could be addressed through the final report. “This is an almost urgent issue [because] if there’s no screening process, we’re just going to be handing out food,” he said, adding that “we need to make sure that we are working towards setting up a system so that we know who’s using it and the people who are using it are the people who need it.”
Governance Committee reviews Board policies
The policy review was presented by vice-president university relations Jackson Freedman. “One of the main roles of the governance committee is to conduct an ongoing policy review of all of the Board policies we have to guide our action,” said Freedman, reporting that the Committee’s goal was to review five policies a month.
For the first month, he reported that the Governance Committee had approved the policy review for the Global Mission Statement Mission and Values and the first four Ends Policies. “If you have any questions about [these policies] or want to know what they say, find me or go to sfss.ca and click on ‘SFSS Board policies,’” ended Freedman.