Council Meeting — March 17, 2021

Council members discuss online and in-person security measures and potential budget increases

Image: Irene Lo

Written by: Jaymee Salisi, News Writer

Student cybersecurity

Following the data breaches in February 2021 and March 2020, molecular biology and biochemistry representative Kyle Newcomb brought forward a discussion item regarding student cybersecurity. 

Newcomb emphasized the Board’s responsibility to pressure SFU to treat student information with more care saying, “The fact that we even have to worry about data breaches going forward is just unacceptable.” 

Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) president Osob Mohamed said she plans to meet with IT services to discuss the effects of the data breach. 

“This is not something that’s not going to be handled in a single discussion in Council,” Newcomb said. 

Faculty of science representative WeiChun Kua notified Council that a lawsuit has been filed against SFU for the cyberattacks, “If this is won, the defendant, which is SFU, shall offer credit protection to each member affected for a period of five years.” 

Members discussed possible outcomes that might come from this action, but did not come to any conclusions.

Supporting the Black Caucus statement

Disability and neurodiversity alliance representative Serena Bains brought forward the motion to sign the Black Caucus’ response to the release of the MacKay Report, which was an external review of the December 11, 2020 arrest of the Black alumnus. 

Commissioned by SFU, the MacKay report concluded that racial profiling did not occur, and recommended SFU clarify its definition of a “community member.” 16 current and former SFU students and representatives were interviewed for the review. The Black alumnus was not interviewed. 

“[SFU] didn’t really address any of the underlying causes or any of the reasons why the violence took place against the Black alumnus,” Bains said. They emphasized the importance of Council to fulfil their commitment to stand in solidarity with the Black community by supporting the Black Caucus’ response to the report. 

Newcomb suggested Council focus their efforts on requesting a full release of the report because “we don’t know how [the investigator] came to these conclusions.”

Mohamed clarified the SFSS’ response does demand more details of the summary and advised students to consider the accuracy of details announced by the university.

Bains said, “I think it might be naive to assume that if we receive the full report that the conclusions will be different.” 

The motion passed with 24 votes in favour, 8 abstentions, and 4 votes against.

Budget consultation

With consideration for the extra work predicted to arise from the merger of the SFSS Board of Directors and Council into one entity, Gildersleve proposed the incoming Summer 2021 Board increase their stipend pay. 

In May 2021, the new SFSS Council will have an executive committee of seven, one representative from each recognized departmental and faculty student union, constituency group, and affiliated student group. 

With the same wage since 2008, members currently work for 120 hours, earning stipends estimated to be $14.50 per hour ($1,750 per month). Once minimum wage in BC increases to $15.20 per hour in June 2021, Council member payment will be 70 cents less than minimum wage while carrying more responsibilities, said Gildersleve. 

To determine the updated stipend, Gildersleve recommended using the living wage model, which adjusts for inflation and accommodates the cost of housing, clothing, food, transportation, child care, and medical expenses. 

With these considerations, Gildersleve said the stipend for 2021 would amount to $17.96 per hour. Using the living wage model would impact tuition and cost students around $15.20 per year in 2021/2022, and $16.90 per year in 2022/2023.

Student union representative chair and science undergraduate society representative Zaid Lari advised Council members to review the report and come to the next discussion with questions prepared to make further decisions about the budget adjustment.

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