Written by: Amneet Mann, News Editor
Board discusses approach to SFU’s proposed tuition fee increases
Vice-president student services Samer Rihani briefed the SFSS (Simon Fraser Student Society) board of directors on a meeting held with SFU administration about the university’s proposed tuition fee increases.
Addressing the board, Rihani explained SFU’s breakdown of the potential raises in fees: 2% for domestic students, and anywhere from 4% to 20% for international students depending on their faculty and whether they are current or incoming students.
Rihani reported that SFU’s reasoning for the higher fees included the fact that the school was offering more services and bursaries. He noted that the board members who attended the meeting were unsatisfied with SFU’s reasoning for the increases.
Vice-president university relations Jackson Freedman noted that the SFSS’s first step would be to attend SFU’s proposed tuition fee consultation. The consultation will be held from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on October 30, in room 114 of Halpern Centre at the Burnaby campus.
Freedman also suggested that the student society hold their own consultations to gather student opinions on the proposed increases. The gathered feedback would be presented to the university before February, which is when the increases are currently expected to take effect.
Vice-president external relations Jasdeep Gill stated that tuition fees was one of the SFSS’s highest priorities with regards to their provincial lobbying agenda.
“The reason that international fees always go up is that category doesn’t have a cap on it, the 2% [that domestic fees have],” Gill explained. “So what we’re pushing for essentially is for that cap to be reflected for international fees as well.”
Rihani echoed Gill’s sentiments, adding that, to ensure the society’s views on the fee increase are seriously considered by the university, the SFSS should band together with other schools and address the issue on a provincial level.
Board to participate in internal review of campus safety and security protocols
Freedman noted that the internal review process will be conducted in response to student concerns regarding campus safety and security protocols following an incident of violence on campus.
“It’s definitely been challenging to hear about a lot of the difficult things some of our membership have gone through. It’s also been challenging to learn a little bit more about SFU’s response to some of these concerns,” said Freedman.
He noted that the society would have a “monitoring role” in the review, which will be public and will include the students who were involved in the incident as well.
Board expresses concern regarding communications with SFU
Freedman noted that the SFSS had not been informed prior to the public announcement of the new pub being opened on campus by SFU. He mentioned that this incident contributed to a pattern of a lack of communication between the SFSS and SFU Ancillary Services, in particular.
“So I wanted to put that out in kind of a public setting. We were really displeased to hear that that announcement was made without informing any of us,” said Freedman. “I think it just speaks to an ongoing, systemic problem with respect to communication between the student society and with that specific area, and with SFU more broadly.”
Freedman emphasized that the board would continue to follow up on their concerns with the university as maintaining good communication with SFU was a priority for the society.
Board takes steps towards transparency
Freedman mentioned that the society was looking into developing a board secretary position. The board secretary would work with a staff member to review board meeting minutes, agendas, and put together a report on the contents of the board meeting to be made public in an effort to be more transparent as a society.
“It’s one step in trying to communicate the decisions we make at board a little bit better to our student body,” said Freedman.