Board Shorts: November 1

Image: Irene Lo

By: Paige Riding, News Writer

Note: The Rotunda groups discussion and vote that was at this meeting was covered in separate articles here and here.

World University Services of Canada (WUSC) Spring 2020 Referendum

The SFSS Board of Directors voted to hold a Spring 2020 referendum to increase the levy for World University Services of Canada (WUSC). The referendum will ask students to increase WUSC’s $2.50 per term levy to a doubled $5 for students enrolled in full-time classes, and from $1.75 to $2.50 for those enrolled part-time. 

The program supports refugee students in their endeavors to complete their post-secondary education at SFU. Without this increased fee, the program would not be able to continue to sponsor the number of undergraduate students they currently do.

Student Advocate position endorsed by Board

The Board of Directors voted in favour of endorsing a pilot project to hire a Student Advocate, and for Executive Director Sylvia Ceacero to present a business plan for the implementation of this position in the Spring semester. 

As part of this proposal, the Board heard from Laura Reid, SFU Ombudsperson, about what her position entails. The Ombuds Office is an “independent, impartial, and confidential resource for students,” according to their website. Located in Maggie Benston Centre room 2266, the Ombudsperson is not an advocate but a “confidential and impartial resource to learn self-advocacy skills.” While Reid cannot advocate on behalf of students, she can inform and guide graduates and undergraduates on what policies and approaches they should know about.

The advocate will work to ensure that the university treats graduate and undergraduate students fairly in disputes with the university such as academic or non-academic misconduct, housing appeals, parking disputes etc. They will also provide guidance on policies and emotional support during these kinds of disputes.

Board Approves a Coordinator for the First Nations Student Association

The First Nations Student Association (FNSA) received approval from the Board to hire a Coordinator to support their organization and regular operations. The Coordinator will be a paid employee financed from the SFSS’s general operating budget. Until now, FNSA has been completely run by students. 

“It has been very inequitable for the First Nations Student Association. As you can imagine, not having a Coordinator while being internal to SFSS is quite astonishing and shocking, to be frank. We look at areas such as Out On Campus and Womens’ Centre and they have multiple staff members supporting them,” said an FNSA representative that was present at the meeting.

Provincial Lobbying 2019 Report

Vice-President External Relations Jasdeep Gill and Vice-President Student Services Christina Loutsik reported on their recent lobbying trip to Victoria. While they met with many lawmakers and elected representatives, they mentioned that during their trip to Victoria, 22 parliament members canceled previously scheduled meetings with Gill and Loutsik.

On a more positive note, Gill said that “Premier John Horgan and Minister Melanie Mark did indicate that they are in support of dedicating funds to the needs-based grant program.” 

Gill added “they don’t just want to rebrand the current funds that they invest into the completion grants [ . . . ] they’d like to add additional money that would benefit student financial aid.” 

Further, she reported that some MLAs indicated that the interest on the federal portion of student loans may be eliminated in the future. The provincial representatives said that they plan to continue to push the federal government on this issue.

Gill and Loutsik also discussed the harm caused by the high tuition fees for international students, with the MLAs they met with. Part of the solutions they proposed included increasing the maximum hours an international student can work, from the current limit of 20 hours a week.