Council Meeting — September 29, 2021

The Council discusses furnishing Student Union Building (SUB)

SFU Stadium with red seating
PHOTO: Krystal Chan / The Peak

By: Karissa Ketter, News Writer 

Council votes on furnishing the SUB for student groups

The SFSS Council discussed the current state of the SUB since its grand opening in August. Vice-president finance and services Corbett Gildersleve introduced a motion to spend the remaining funds from the construction of the SUB to furnish the rooms dedicated to the First Nations Student Association (FNSA), Students of Caribbean and African Ancestry (SOCA), and the Disability and Neurodiversity Alliance (DNA). The remaining budget dedicated to furnishing these rooms is $125,000. 

Gildersleve reported this “has long been delayed.”

Treasurer of FNSA Kali Stierle noted, “Almost the entire building is furnished except for our rooms. We’ve been waiting for months for the furniture to make our room usable. We need this so we can serve our membership and provide support.”

SOCA president Balqees Jama noted part of the SUB Opening Plan and legal agreement with the SFSS is that the SFSS furnish these spaces. 

Marie Haddad, vice-president equity and sustainability, said, “Institutions can be very full of microaggressions, racism, and things that are culturally not equipped for folks that are Black or Indigenous. In the same way, they cannot not be accessible for disabled folks. Ensuring that these folks have cultural and accessible funding and furnishing ensures that people feel more at home.” 

Computing science representative Ryan Vansickle voiced his “surprise at the price tag on this.” According to Vansickle, much larger student groups on campus find furniture from second-hand suppliers such as Craigslist. Gildersleve noted the price is the standard as they are supplying furniture built to last. 

Philosophy representative Tony Yu also had reservations about the motion. His concerns lay in the lack of specificity in the motion: details of what was being purchased such as model and brand were unclear. He also questioned the reserved $9,000 for cultural expenditures. “In my experience, I’ve never seen the SFSS give out a blank check.” 

Gildersleve clarified this section is intended for decorations such as sculptures and other items, giving these groups the flexibility to purchase what they see fit. 

“Folks from this community should have the autonomy to ensure their culturally relevant and accessible furnishing [are] actually in place,” said Haddad. She noted these items are typically expensive.

Matthew Provost, vice-president external and community affairs, said, “I’ve seen the barriers that the SFSS continually made [ . . . ] if these groups were consulted in a good way prior to the SUB being open we wouldn’t be having this conversation because their furniture would already be in here.” 

Abhishek Parmar, political science representative, suggested the motion be amended and separated into three separate motions since he was not supportive of the motion as a whole. Gildersleve noted that “it might be harmful to separate it out.”

“It’s really nice to have folks back into the space they belong in, especially when it comes to Black, Indigenous, and disabled folks. These folks have continuously been excluded out of spaces [ . . . ] We need to ensure they have the funds to make their spaces safe and accessible to marginalized folks within the community,” said Haddad. 

The motion was made but did not reach unanimous consent. The final motion was passed and carried with 27 votes in approval, 3 votes in objection, and 7 abstention votes. 

Council discusses student engagement levels

Science undergraduate society representative Zaid Lari introduced a discussion around the lack of student engagement at Council meetings. “I think it’s really important that we get students to be attending and voicing their opinions.”

The SFSS uploads their meeting recordings to their YouTube channel but Lari noted views are consistently low. 

He suggested the communication department look into advertising on social media to attract students. “A big part of our duty here is to get [students] to come to our meetings,” said Lari. 

Councillors agreed this was an important initiative. Hadded noted the SFSS “should strengthen and amplify” the student engagement working group that has already been established.

Lari, as a part of the working group, noted they will begin advertising meetings within departmental student unions.