By: Eden Chipperfield, News Writer
On October 11, The Peak attended the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) bi-weekly Council meeting. The agenda included a discussion on the SFSS response to the TSSU strike. This article was written prior to TSSU reaching a tentative agreement with SFU.
SFSS response to TSSU strikes
The Council held an in-camera meeting where councillors and executive members discussed the TSSU strike and the SFSS response regarding the matter. The Peak could not attend this part of the meeting as in-camera meetings do not include media or guests.
After the in-camera meeting, the group rejoined the conversation. A motion was proposed for the SFSS to release a statement in support of the TSSU and the tuition refunds undergraduate students have been calling for. An undergraduate student, Kanksha, voiced their concerns with the SFSS’s lack of support and response toward the TSSU strike. “The biggest thing that’s been happening on campus, and SFSS seems not to have taken any stance or provided any guidance to students,” said Kanksha directly to Council. “We’ve been on strike since June.”
Council informed Kanksha, and the rest of the attendees, that in the matter of releasing support letters, there are legal procedures to consider as well as bureaucratic processes. They also thanked undergraduate students for attending the bi-weekly meeting.
History councillor, Emilio De Silvia, responded, “I will not allow our Council to be bullied to go and push this. I want it to go and be done in a way that protects all of us from any legal implications. And I want us to go and ensure we do our due diligence on this.” Further, De Silvia said they wanted to avoid putting responsibility on vice-president external Nancy Brar entirely, because Brar deserved support. The role of vice-president external and community affairs includes liaising with student societies and organizations such as TSSU on behalf of the SFSS.
The chat box on Zoom was instantly lit up as Kanksha disavowed being called a bully for standing up for TSSU. “Do not thank us, undergrads, for coming to this meeting if you will also call us bullies!” wrote Kanksha. “If raising our concerns is labelled as bullying, I do not feel represented at all.”
TSSU representative councillor, Pranjali Mann, argued the SFSS is responsible to the students they represent, and their silence is concerning. Mann expressed, “The part of the concern that I have is that [TSSU strike] is being shifted off our priority for too long. This is the conversation that I have been having since July, August, September, and now it’s October.”
Marwan Saleh, who stepped in for Council representative for the psychology student union, added: “I would like to highlight the fact that considering that the TSSU has been on strike for months and SFSS has not considered to essentially make a statement in any shape or form and consider the fact of how undergraduate students feel — particularly marginalized students that are international students, or exchange students who are being harmed by the strike action.”
Indigenous studies student union councillor, Evan Accettola, agreed with this sentiment, addressing the undergraduates who had joined the meeting: “I just wanted to thank all the concerned students that came. I agree that this issue has been put off for too long. I think that’s 100% correct. But, also, because of how the Council is designed, we have to follow the process to ensure all councillors approve it. So, I really do think this is done as fast as possible. Your guys’ passion for this is awesome, and seeing that in students is great.”
President Liam Feng closed off the conversation and began adjourning the evening meeting. They had planned to revisit the topic of SFSS’s response to the strike in two weeks at the next bi-weekly meeting. They also considered calling an extraordinary meeting to discuss the matter sooner. However, before the SFSS came to an agreement, the TSSU reached a tentative agreement with the school.