Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer
The Board finalizes new Student Union Building (SUB) leases to student groups
The Board discussed a motion to approve lease agreements for space in the SUB to key SFU groups. This includes the First Nations Student Association, Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA), CJSF Radio, Embark Sustainability, and Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group.
This comes after conversations beginning in 2011 for space on campus for Rotunda groups.
At-large representative and SOCA member Balqees Jama recalled being informed by the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) in 2018 that SOCA was being evicted. “There was so much stress and taxation on our health,” she said. SOCA launched the Black Spaces Matter campaign calling on the SFSS to give them back their space “so that Black students are not rendered homeless and without a safe community.”
Jama said, “It’s a part of the restorative justice that we have been talking about this year.” She added she is “relieved and emotional” to see the leases being finalized.
Vice-president student services Matthew Provost said, “This has been a long time coming.” He said the SFSS evictions were “a very difficult time for a lot of community members” as SOCA was not the only Rotunda group to be evicted from their space.
The leases with these groups were first proposed in March 2020. The Board voted unanimously to approve the lease agreements, giving Rotunda groups and SFU organizations space in the new SUB. SFSS president Osob Mohamed noted it was a historical moment.
Board approves living wage model for 2021/2022 members
The Board approved a change in the wages model for the incoming Board of Directors and Council members. This recognizes the amount of time dedicated by non-executive councillors, council vice chair, and executive officers and compensates them based on living wages.
Mohamed said due to the increasing cost of living, “working-class students are just not able to put in large amounts of time uncompensated into anything.”
The motion compensates the executive officers $2,100 per month starting May 1, 2021 and $2,340 per month starting May 1, 2022 to accommodate the increasing cost of living. Council vice chairs will receive $525 per month in 2021 and $585 per month in 2022. The non-executive councillors will receive $350 per month in 2021 and $390 per month in 2022. This amounts to an increase of roughly $15.20 per year in 2021/22, and $16.90 a year in 2022/23 in tuition costs for students.
“When we talk about systemic equity or removing systemic barriers for people to get involved in things, this is a prime example,” said Jama. She noted many people at SFU would be interested in contributing to the SFSS but cannot afford to because they need a higher income.
BIPOC committee at-large representative Marie Haddad noted the SFSS has a responsibility to support students on campus. “When we call on marginalized students to take space in governance, [the SFSS is] also called on to make that space adequate for those students.”
The SFSS has not updated their compensation model since 2008.
The motion passed unanimously.
2020/2021 Year-End Review
Mohamed presented the Board Year-End Review, showcasing what the Board of Directors accomplished throughout the pandemic. Mohamed touched on academic advocacy, equity and social justice initiatives, and financial aid advocacy.
Mohamed said they “have seen some major wins” this year. She noted the new elective grading scheme was passed in the Senate because of their work. Mohamed also noted their student affordability project as a key area of success. This group was created to help prepare for the financial burden that accompanies post-secondary school. It also extends beyond tuition to rent, cost of living, and other costs.
Mohamed noted that the 56 virtual events held were a “key facet of the SFSS this year” in creating a community amidst the pandemic.
A goal of the SFSS this year was to “see improved transparency, accountability [ . . . ] and democratic, member-driven budgeting and major decision making,” said Mohamed. “Those pieces are the foundation of the SFSS.”