Board Shorts — November 13, 2020

The Board discusses election policy, emergency funding, and university advocacy

Image: Irene Lo

Written by: Mahdi Dialden, News Writer

SFSS emergency funding for Fall 2020

The Board discussed the possibility of emergency funding for students struggling financially during the pandemic. Last April, the SFSS passed a motion providing about $150,000 to an emergency fund for students with “emergency costs that had jumped up in the middle of the pandemic.”

SFSS President Osob Mohamed said, “We thought that the pandemic would have been over by now. We thought that we would have been back in school and back with each other, but that’s just not the reality of the situation. And this could very well be going on for a lot longer than we thought.”

The emergency funding is being made possible because the SFSS budget has largely been untouched according to VP Finance Corbett Gildersleve. “For instance, when I looked at the bank records  [ . . . ] it looked like we’re only, maybe about 10% of the budget has been spent so far [ . . . ] and we’re six months in.”

The university doesn’t currently have plans to provide extra assistance. VP University Relations, Gabe Liosis said, “From the discussions we’ve already had with university administrators it seems like there isn’t, they’re giving the appearance that there isn’t much money to give. We know that there there’s a huge surplus in the university budget that’s kind of restricted and we don’t really know why it’s restricted or if that money can be used for anything else.” 

Update on university advocacy

There was discussion regarding the advocacy of important issues that arose during the AGM about tuition hikes. The SFSS sent a letter to the university condemning previous hikes, with action items and demands. 

Mohamed added, “We sent out a letter with some very clear action items to the university and we have not received a response and a lot of people work at the university and I sent it to all of them. So I know that they received it.” 

Student feedback from the Annual General Meeting showed a willingness to mobilize, and that is something the SFSS aims to guide. At-Large Representative Balqees Jama explained, “People are literally talking about ‘what can we do? how can we mobilize?’ There’s buzzing about the tuition strike. Like there’s some serious energy for organizing and mobilizing. And I’m excited about it. The COVID-19 coalition has seen over 75 people sign up to just organize since the AGM. So there’s definitely an appetite for that.” 

Amendments to election policy

The policy for SFSS executive and council elections have been repealed to cover arising issues. 

According to Gabe Liosis, the “new bylaws have added new definitions for things like slates,  pre-campaigning, campaigning, and other items related to elections.”

The election policy dictates specific rules for the candidates that run for positions in the SFSS. The policy includes guidelines for the elections timeline and budget and the policies for the independent electoral commission (IEC) who are responsible for the administration of elections. It also mentions rules pertaining to candidates’ nomination, campaigning — the period before, during, and after — budget, and voting, among other things. 

For example, slates are now mentioned in the policies, this allows candidates who “are a group of two (2) or more candidates running in an election under a similar platform, for mutual advantage, with the goal of getting each other elected.” This is one of the issues that used to be decided by the IEC weeks before each election and until now, the rules were never mentioned in the by-laws.