Council Chats: SFSS rejects TEDxSFU grant request

The panel requested over $11,000 for their November 11 conference, raising concerns over SFSS’ growing deficit

This is an illustration of a graphic that reads “Council Chats.” The image also has two text boxes to symbolise messages being sent.
ILLUSTRATION: Andrea Choi / The Peak

By: Olivia Sherman, News Writer

The Peak attended the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) meeting on November 8. Matters discussed include expelling councillors due to absences, the TEDxSFU conference, tuition refunds, and a number of committee elections. 

Councillor Resignations

The SFSS bylaw 15.7 states that if a councillor is absent from five scheduled meetings without stating regrets, or is absent from three consecutive meetings, it will result in expulsion from the SFSS and their seat will be considered vacant.

At this meeting, there were numerous councillors who had been absent for five or more meetings and are now considered resigned. The councillors resigned are as follows: biology councillor, Nicolas Bonilla, archaeology councillor, Seniha Inceoz, SFPIRG councillor, Tuleen Awad, software systems student society councillor, Ngan Ngoc Nguyen, interactive arts and technology student union councillor, Karishma Sen, Out On Campus councillor, Adriana Cumming-Teicher, film councillor, Sofi Badzio, and international studies student union councillor, Sebastian Mujica.

Mujica raised concerns about this motion, saying he was unaware of this policy and was told otherwise upon initial election. Vice-president internal, Ashely Flett, said this story was “a little unbelievable.” Councillor Bonilla said, upon his recruitment mid-year to the SFSS, the previous vice-president internal told him absences without regrets were tolerable, but “now I’m being told that it is policy.” 

Flett assured Mujica and the other councillors that they would be eligible for reelection to their positions within their respective societies and student unions. 

TEDxSFU Grant Request

The SFSS had previously granted TEDxSFU $2,300 for their November 11 event. TEDxSFU’s budget this year is $59,778. Prior to the November 8 meeting, they requested an additional $11,000 from the SFSS. The money would have gone toward flying speakers to Vancouver, catering for VIP members, venue space for 1,820 attendees, and reduced ticket prices for students.

No representatives from TEDxSFU were present at the meeting, and a discussion was held about the grant request. History student union councillor Emilio Da Silva raised concerns about the grant request, citing the severe deficit the SFSS is in. “This is an extraordinarily large amount of money, and I don’t know how the precedent of us spending this will set for other clubs,” he said. “I’m really worried that, in a few years, we may not exist anymore.” 

Criminology student association councillor Henry Do provided figures from TEDxSFU’s past events. He said from 2018–2022, venues have held around 400 attendees, while this year is hosting 1,820 attendees. Do also said TEDxSFU has sold over 600 tickets as of November 5. He noted the majority of seats had not been filled yet. “Their turnout has been good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not good enough to book this venue.”

SFSS agreed to grant the original $2,300, but rejected the additional $11,000.

Tuition Refund 

Former vice president of finance Abhi Parmar spoke with SFU’s Senate about the tuition refund. He reported a resounding refusal from the Senate to administer refunds. 

In response, the SFSS will release a letter supporting the tuition refund campaign. The Undergrad Solidarity Society released a petition and letter demanding a tuition refund after the fall semester was disrupted due to the Teaching Support Staff Union strike. Despite the strike ending in mid-October, the USS is calling for a refund to compensate for time, effort, and money lost during the three-week job action. 

Committee Elections

  • Oversight Committee on Executive Officers: Sociology and anthropology student union councillor, Andres Sosa
  • Oversight Committee on Executive Officers: Geography student union councillor, Erik Makinen
  • Oversight Committee on Executive Officers: Political science student union councillor, Aliyah Apolonio
  • University and Academic Affairs Committee: Criminology student association councillor, Henry Do
  • Events and Student Affairs Committee: Thomas Leuth, VP university and academic affairs 
  • Member Service Advisory Committee: Thomas Leuth, VP university and academic affairs
  • Equity and Sustainability Committee: Residence hall’s association councillor Emmanuel Adegboyega 
  • Outreach Committee: The election was postponed 
  • Surrey Campus Committee: Thomas Leuth, VP university and academic affairs
  • Space Oversight Committee: Indigenous studies student union councillor Evan Accettola 
  • Vancouver Campus Committee: The election was postponed. 

Proposal to Change SFSS Logo

During the thirty-minute Q&A period, president Liam Feng suggested changing the SFSS logo. Others suggested a logo-designing competition to raise awareness for the SFSS and to build a sense of community and friendly competition.

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