Written by: Amneet Mann, News Editor
Finances regarding AMS Welcome Back BBQ settled
The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) approved a total of $13,388 to pay for the unsold tickets of the initial release of the Alma Mater Society (AMS) Welcome Back BBQ.
The money was approved in accordance with section 3.C of the agreement between the SFSS and AMS Events, which stated that the SFSS would accept any unsold tickets of the initial release of the event.
The SFSS Events Committee has a remaining budget of $36,797.85 for the rest of the board year.
Board discusses campus safety concerns
The discussion was prompted after a student posted on Facebook about an incident of classroom violence. Vice-president university relations Jackson Freedman introduced the discussion and asked the board how they feel the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) should respond to the situation.
“I feel like, if SFU is not stepping in, we should probably step in at this point,” said vice-president external relations Jasdeep Gill
SFSS CEO Martin Wyant noted that, if the board has the contact information of the students who witnessed the incident, the society should reach out them directly to offer support. “As a student society you are rightly concerned about this,” he said. “And if we need to advocate with the university or any particular group on how they can better support in circumstances like this, then that’s a very appropriate role to play.”
Wyant also noted that this incident could be combined with pre-existing concerns current and past SFSS boards have had regarding safety and security on campus and jointly presented to the university.
Board discusses accessibility and health and safety concerns
Vice-president student services Samer Rihani brought forward a concern raised during the last SFSS Accessibility Committee meeting regarding current protocol for students with accessibility needs in cases of emergency.
According to Rihani, if a student with accessibility needs is on the fifth or sixth floor of the AQ during a fire or other emergency, the current protocol for them would be to wait by the staircase and “hope that somebody gets you.” Rihani expressed concern over this policy, and motioned to invite SFU into a conversation regarding accessibility.
Wyant connected Rihani’s concern to other concerns brought forward by current and past board members, as well as other SFU students, such as the need for an updated accessibility map, lighting on campus, and the emergency plan in the case that the Kinder Morgan pipeline bursts.
“If that tank farm goes up, the health and safety concerns are large. You could strand thousands and thousands of people on this campus and the strategy right now is you shelter in place, which basically means you just stay and wait for instructions,” noted Wyant.
Wyant also relayed student concerns regarding how long it took to for the university to formulate a coherent response when smoke bombs were set off at this year’s AGM.
“There’s an accessibility conversation, and there’s also a broader issue with respect to health and safety on campus,” said Wyant. He suggested the board look into inviting SFU representatives into a bigger conversation about health and safety on campus with all SFU students.
SFSS works with FNSA to plan Pow Wow event
Vice-president student life Tawanda Masawi was appointed to work with the First Nations Student Association (FNSA) to provide SFSS support to the planning of the association’s Pow Wow event. The event is scheduled to be held on the weekend of February 22 to 24.
FNSA member Matt spoke on behalf of the association during the board meeting, stating that the event “would be helpful to build the cultural relationship between the SFSS and the FNSA.”
“Through Indigenous methods, the best way you can learn is to build a relationship with someone,” said Matt. “I know the FNSA wants to work with the SFSS trying to rebuild a lot of these relationships.” He noted that the event would help provide “first-hand cultural knowledge and understanding about both Indigenous students and the community” to the SFSS.
Board revisits Surrey space agreement
Freedman noted that a significant concern raised during the previous SFSS Council meeting was the fulfilment of the Surrey space agreement which was announced in March. The agreement aimed to expand available study space for students at SFU Surrey through actions such as leaving classrooms on Galleria 3 unlocked until midnight for students to occupy, and enhancing studying spaces with additional power outlets, seating, and overhead lighting.
The board discussed concerns that these actions were not being effectively executed. Applied sciences representative Kia Mirsalehi noted that there had been no significant work done towards the agreement’s commitment of a mobile cart holding project tools. At-large representative Mohammed Ali recounted his experience when security personnel told him that they would not open a classroom unless a class had previously been booked in that space.
The board agreed to meet with SFU to discuss the progress of the agreement’s implementation.
Mirsalehi also mentioned that SFU Burnaby students were currently not able to enter the Surrey campus after hours by themselves — they must contact security and ask for entrance.
Board discusses approach to hostile communications
Business representative Jessica Nguyen brought the discussion forward following a hostile interaction she had with a group over the Thanksgiving long weekend.
“I completely understand when clubs have concerns which are valid, but being rude and disrespectful and abusive is not fair and I think this has happened many times in the past,” Nguyen said.
“There has been unfortunately — over the years I’ve been here — this jump to being judgmental and hostile in some situations. And we’ve seen it with a number of clubs in particular,” said Wyant. Wyant continued that the current manner in which the SFSS deals with hostile groups is to invite them to meet with the SFSS and discuss the relationship between the society and the group.
“You don’t have to sit and take abuse as a person, as a member of the Simon Fraser Student Society, as anybody in life,” he reminded the directors. “Just because you ran for political office doesn’t mean that others are entitled to that approach.
SFSS plans fall lobbying trip
The society approved $1,535.55 to send Gill, FCAT representative Amrita Mohar, and environment representative Russell Dunsford on a fall lobbying trip to Victoria at the end of October. The trip is a follow-up to a prior trip done by Gill and Mohar which involved provincial budget consultations.
The board discussed sending SFSS campaign, policy, and research coordinator Sarah Edmunds to accompany the directors on the trip. Wyant noted that the idea of involving staff more heavily in lobbying was one that surfaced last year: “We came to the conclusion that we weren’t necessarily lobbying effectively as an organization, we were kind of riding the coattails of others,” he said.
Board approves up to $1,300 for pumpkin-carving event
Nguyen clarified that the budget was decided by budgeting $10 per pumpkin (with a total of 100 pumpkins), as well as pumpkin-carving kits, which would be safer than knives.
She noted that she wanted to “have the motion because the event is coming up real soon so I’d like to have it up to [$1,300] but I probably will not use all.”