Written by: Paige Riding, News Writer
COVID-19 Survey Report and conversation with SFU administration discussed
At the end of April, the Board circulated a COVID-themed survey that, as of now, has received around 2,500 responses from students (approximately 10% of SFSS undergraduate member representation, according to Mohamed).
Mohamed iterated student concerns around unstable internet in the wake of an online semester, financial strain for students with dependents, the lack of funding from the Canadian government for international students, and more.
On the matter of students’ mental health, the report showed that around 50% of students reported new or worsening issues surrounding this matter.
“A lot of instructors were actually not acting in ways that were compassionate of their students and the situation that students were going through,” added Mohamed.
With this information, representatives of the Board went to the SFU administration. They were met with unfruitful discussions, according to Mohamed.
This survey will be posted on SFSS social media for further input from undergraduate students. The Board hopes to converse with the Senate around these matters.
Student COVID-19 Town Hall to occur
The SFSS plans to host a Town Hall to allow students to ask questions regarding SFU’s COVID-19 policies and protocols. For those unable to speak during the event, their questions can be asked ahead of time. Additionally, for those unable to attend this Town Hall, future meetings will be organized, according to Balqees Jama, At-Large Representative. ASL interpretation and closed captioning will also be offered.
The Board also discussed the SFU-held Student Town Hall from a couple weeks ago.
Jama noted that, “Students were not given a genuine chance to raise concerns at the Town Hall or ask critical questions due to the lack of live participation from students.
Building on this, Jama remarked: “We need to demonstrate that the SFSS is here for you. And we are actively, every day, for hours upon hours, still working to make sure that all of our students’ academic needs are met — especially our most marginalized right now.”
Board discusses establishment of new BIPOC Committee
VP Student Services Matthew Provost proposed the establishment of a new committee for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) students on campus. The proposed committee will focus on matters of “equity, diversity, and inclusion,” and “would help support initiatives and guide the work of the Board of Directors and the SFSS to properly support those in the BIPOC community.”
Provost hopes to see the Board “take this as an opportunity to work together on initiatives for the betterment of building community between the SFSS and the BIPOC community.”
While there are groups like Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry and the First Nations Student Association on campus, Provost noted that “there is still a disconnect between how we properly support these groups, as well the greater BIPOC community and other smaller clubs and DSUs on campus.
“I feel this is important in terms of work this Board advocates for, as well as initiatives that the university is standing by, such as reconciliation [ . . . ] decolonization, and indigenization”.
This proposal will be voted upon at a later meeting.
The Board established new terms for First Year Engagement Committee at SFU
Certain Board members proposed new terms of reference for a committee focused on first-year students.
“It would make recommendations to the Board on initiatives, events, advocacy [ . . . ] and then the Board would take those recommendations and do with [them] as [they] think best,” VP University Relations Gabe Liosis explained.
The terms, unanimously agreed upon by the Board, explain that the committee’s deliverables will be “to provide the Board with formal recommendations and reports including but not limited to: engagement initiatives and results, community building events for students, and first year advocacy.”
The Board votes to increase funding to the Living Personal Truths Award
The Board unanimously agreed to allocate an additional $11,645 to the Living Personal Truths Award. According to the university’s website, the award “is given to a student in any faculty who has demonstrated a significant contribution to reducing discrimination and/or increasing awareness of sexual orientation and gender diversity”.
This increase will bring the lump sum to $20,000.