Board Shorts — January 29, 2021

The Board discusses ways to financially support students during the pandemic

Image: Irene Lo

by Jaymee Salisi, News Writer

Social justice campaign support fund

As student-led social justice campaigns have increased in recent years at SFU, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) discussed plans to set aside money each year to fund student initiatives. The support would come in the form of a grant, specifically for social justice campaigns. The funding will be included in the 2021-22 budget and will require students to go through an application process to access support, which is yet to be finalized.

“As a student who has tried to organize campaigns on their own, it’s not easy,” Vice President of Finance Corbett Gildersleve explained as he brought this motion to the Board. He added that executing a successful campaign can be costly to students, so implementing a support fund would remove the financial barrier for those who want to campaign for change. 

At-Large Representative Balqees Jama noted that this funding would especially support students from marginalized communities as they contribute a great deal to campaign organization. Because this initiative “systemically ingrains funding,” she added that it would be beneficial during times when the SFSS might not be at capacity to support students. 

All members showed support for this initiative as it represents advocacy and “facilitating collective action.” 

 

Spring 2021 emergency funding

Remote learning and holding all events virtually has left the SFSS with a financial surplus. They plan to redistribute the extra money to support international and domestic students. The Board emphasized that they are glad to have the capacity to “make [their] financial support available to all students.” 

$400,000 will be spread over the Spring and Summer 2021 terms during which 400 students per semester could benefit from this model, with $500 provided to each student. It was recommended that the funding would be split 40/60 in favour of international students as domestic students have access to provincial and federal grant applications. 

The SFSS would have preferred to collaborate with the university, but according to Gildersleve, “it wouldn’t be viable.” He explained that SFU prefers to support students through bursaries, which requires the student to be assessed for financial need by the university, maintain a minimum 2.00 GPA, and a nine-credit course load. This could exclude students not meeting eligibility requirements who may still need financial support. 

According to Gildersleve, even if the university reduces their limits, funding wouldn’t be implemented and beneficial until this time next year — which would be too long to wait. The Board aims to distribute funds by April 2021, and again in the Summer term. 

This motion was carried unanimously. Details regarding the application process and distribution have yet to be discussed.

 

Possibility of making the CARES program an approved quarantine location

SFSS President Osob Mohamed raised concerns regarding the recent announcement of a mandatory hotel quarantine that may affect international students as they return to Canada after the vaccine roll-out. Travellers would be responsible for the associated costs of the quarantine such as their hotel room, food, and security. The Board is aiming to push the government to recognize the SFU CARES program as an approved quarantine location to provide safety and reduce hotel costs for students. “Even in this small way, we can support them and it will be key,” Mohamed stated. 

Science Representative WeiChun Kua added that the CARES program would provide safety for students by avoiding the required RCMP health check-ups in hotels. He emphasized that “health check-ups by law enforcement [ . . . ] is never really safe, especially for Indigenous people,” so validating this program would be a better option for students.