By: Jess Dela Cruz, News Writer
On December 4, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) Council passed a motion 26–6, condemning the SFSS Board of Directors’ decision to not house Rotunda groups in the new Student Union Building (SUB).
SFSS Council, which consists of representatives from Departmental Student Union (DSU), released an open letter to the SFSS Board of Directors on December 11. This clarified their support of the Rotunda groups following the Board’s defeat of a motion to turn some bookable spaces into organizational suites for Rotunda groups. The motion, brought forth by HoSang, was defeated 7–5.
The letter states: “Council firmly believes that the Board is not accurately acting in the best interests of students by denying these groups space, and, by doing so, is directly violating their own constitution.
“The Board is using Student Unions and clubs as a wedge between the Rotunda groups and their secure, permanent space in the SUB [ . . . ] Council does not consent to being used as pawns by the Board in conversations regarding space in the SUB at the detriment of these organizations that are important parts of our community.”
Concluding the letter, the SFSS Council states that “If [ . . . ] the Board does not respond to this letter by December 14, 2019 in a way that makes a clear effort to take Council’s concerns into consideration, then Council, at its next meeting, will consider putting the matter to referendum for Spring 2020.”
Two days later on December 13, SFSS President Giovanni HoSang addressed a letter to the Council stating that the Board had held “preliminary discussions” on the issue. HoSang explains in the letter that due to exam conflicts, many Board members were unavailable to attend these discussions.
The letter promises that the Board will discuss the matter at the next Board meeting in early January and will send a complete response after.
In response to the SFSS’s shared space model, where DSUs and clubs are allocated space in the SUB on a semesterly basis, students have started a Save Our Spaces campaign. Primarily active on Facebook, their page describes the campaign as “a coalition of SFU students and clubs to challenge the SFSS members’ vote that will displace the Rotunda groups — a tight knit community of change makers.” In the comment section of a Save Our Spaces Facebook post, HoSang, concerned students, and Environmental Representative Julian Loutsik discussed the decision.
Gabe Liosis, Council Representative for the Political Science Student Union and Council Liaison to the Board, discussed his involvement with the Save Our Spaces campaign in an email interview with The Peak.
“I strongly believe that the Board is presently not representing the interests of the student-body. We needed a bold, radical, and united front to push back against this decision, and to amplify the voices that the Board is currently suppressing.”
Liosis continued, “Council is making it clear that DSUs no longer want the Board to use DSU/club space prioritization as justification for their decision, as DSUs do not want their space in the SUB to come at the expense of the Rotunda groups.”
According to SFSS bylaws, the Council can bring forward a referendum question for the upcoming Spring 2020 SFSS elections with a majority vote of the council.