Board Shorts — September 4, 2020

The board discussed branded face masks, tuition increases, and the SUB's opening

Image: Irene Lo

Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

The Board discusses purchasing face masks for students and staff on campus

As students begin moving into residence for the fall semester, the Simon Fraser Student Society agreed that “it would be prudent for [them] to have a stock of reusable face masks for students, staff, and Board members,” as per the motion submitted by VP Finance Corbett Gildersleve and Environment Representative Anuki Karunajeewa.

Gildersleve explained that it’s important to provide access to reusable fabric masks to protect students and staff from spreading disease. This would also cut down on the need for disposable masks “which aren’t [ . . . ] the most sustainable.”

Additionally, Gildersleve clarified that they plan to order 250 masks to test their popularity around campus, primarily distributed through the Food Hub. 

During the meeting, Arts & Social Sciences Representative Sude Guvendik addressed concerns that the Residence and Housing office is already supplying free reusable fabric masks to students living on campus. Moreover, multiple Board members voiced their concerns around the high cost, totaling $1945.08 for 250 face masks without delivery charges. However, the Board ultimately voted to invest in masks. 

 

The Board discusses the increase in tuition, pledges to introduce statement of condemnation towards the university at next annual general meeting (AGM)

The Board discussed the 2% increase in domestic undergraduate student tuition and 4% increase in international undergraduate student tuition for the 2020/21 academic year. Their motion outlined that “SFU undergraduates have reported unprecedented financial hardship in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic” and it is their responsibility to “advocate and push for the financial health and well-being” of the students at SFU. 

The Board voted unanimously in favour of drafting a statement to be presented at their next AGM which, upon approval, will “condemn the university’s decision to increase domestic and international undergraduate tuition.” At the AGM, student members will have the opportunity to vote and approve the statement of condemnation as a “way to send a strong and unified message to the university that [they] are demanding a change,” according to SFSS President Osob Mohamed. 

Mohamed expressed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are facing a “financial disaster” and an increase in tuition is “exploitative” and “really inappropriate.” She said that the “condemnation vote, in the case that it does pass, is going to be key in our next steps in actually pushing back on the university directly and saying that we aren’t going to stand for this any longer.” This sentiment was echoed amongst Board Members, including VP University Relations, Gabe Liosis, who stated that “this is a really good opportunity to mobilize students behind the very large [ . . . ] societal issue of universities being forced to exploit students [due to] the fact that the provincial governments are [ . . . ] refusing to recognize tuition as an issue.” 

Mohamed briefed the Board on the topic by saying that at the beginning of 2020, “The university reached out to the SFSS and the GSS for feedback on their drafted budget for the university, which [ . . . ] is [an] over 100 page document detailing anything and everything about SFU’s finances.” Mohamed felt that the university “gave [them] an extremely limited amount of time to actually provide legitimate and fruitful feedback on it.”

Shortly after the Board of Governors voted to approve the budget, and the resulting increase in tuition, the SFSS noticed “a lot of student push back from so many different student groups,” according to Mohamed. 

 

The Board provides updates on Student Union Building opening  

As the construction of the new Student Union Building (SUB) nears a finish, the Board discussed if prolonging the planned opening would be the most effective way to ensure the safety of students and staff. 

Gildersleve made the recommendation to the Board that they keep the SUB closed for “at least [ . . . ] the next couple of months.” The Board voted unanimously to “keep [the building] closed to everyone but essential personnel only until November 1, 2020,” as per their motion. The Board also agreed that at the time of November 1, 2020, they will “continue maintaining the SUB closure [or opening] based on COVID-19 case numbers, society readiness, and other relevant factors.”

Mohamed voiced her support for the recommendation because she feels it is the SFSS’s “number one priority is to ensure the safety of [ . . . ] everyone in our community, whether it be ourselves, or our staff, or our students.”

The next SFSS Board Meeting is scheduled to take place on September 18, 2020.