Board Shorts — October 2, 2020

Image: Irene Lo

Written by Karissa Ketter, News Writer

The Board discusses support of The First Nations Student Association (FNSA) after exclusion from Orange Shirt Day

A ceremony for the new First Peoples’ Gathering House was held on Orange Shirt Day, which aims to recognize “an ongoing commitment to reconciliation.” However, the FNSA was “not invited to this gathering,” according to SFSS At-Large Representative Balqees Jama. The FNSA responded by stating that this was “something disturbing.” 

The Board expressed their disappointments that on a day dedicated to the “spirit of reconciliation and hope, SFU chose to overlook Indigenous student leadership.” 

Furthermore, a statement released by the FNSA noted that on October 1 they “attended a consultative ‘workshop’ for the First Peoples Gathering House,” however, they did not receive an invitation for this event, either. The FNSA explained that they “feel [they] are not being consulted in a way that properly recognizes [their] place at SFU,” as the meeting discussed problematic subjects.

The FNSA expressed that without proper consultation, no matter how good the intentions of staff or students, SFU is still “working backwards” which “completely negates the purpose of the Gathering House.” SFSS president Osob Mohamed voiced that in the past, SFU has continued to  “[commit] this kind of [ . . . ] systemic exclusion of Indigenous students” and she finds it “particularly heinous” for this to happen on a day meant to encourage growth.  VP University Relations Gabe Liosis noted that SFU President Joy Johnson has discussed reconciliation, but stated that SFU is “truly lacking in any real actionable items.” 

The FNSA noted that if proper consultation had been conducted during the planning of the Gathering House, then it would have been clear that “putting the Gathering House in a public place is inconsiderate” because ceremonies are not meant to “be displayed for the curiosity of settlers.”

The Board expressed that this is “incredibly disappointing but not surprising coming from SFU,” according to Mohamed.

The FNSA statement concluded with a list of recommendations and the SFSS Board discussed what they can do to support the FNSA. The SFSS considered reaching out to administrators to ensure awareness of their errors in judgement as well as contacting the FNSA to ask how they can appropriately offer their support. 

Jama concluded by saying that she has high expectations for Johnson to have “serious commitment to serious action” in listening to Black and Indigenous students. She noted her thanks to the FNSA “for their constant advocacy and service and leadership within the community.”

The Board appointed new FNSA representative to the SFSS BIPOC Committee

FNSA representative Kianna James was appointed to the SFSS BIPOC Committee to fill the seat for the First Nations Student Association. 

Mohamed expressed that she is “looking forward to working with her in the near future.”

The Board agrees to allow clubs the option of creating their own constitutions

Previously, clubs at SFU followed a generic constitution. At-Large Representative Phum Luckkid approached the Governance Committee regarding his “concern around why clubs didn’t have the ability to create their own clubs constitutions or additional rules,” as expressed by Liosis.

Luckkid noted that this decision was made by the Member Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) to avoid the “bureaucratic hell” of having dozens of individual constitutions. Despite the lack of control clubs have had over their own operations, terms of references were still adopted. Clubs are required to ensure that their rules don’t conflict with the rules originally set by MSACs constitution or the SFSS mandate. 

Faculty of Science Representative WeiChun Kua, noted that he is “happy to see this change.”