By: Drew MacEachern
Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 6:01pm. Before the agenda for the meeting was approved. VPSL (Student Life) Nathan Hood moved a motion to add new society ratifications to the agenda. President Dana Kenny then made an amendment to move the swearing-in of new councillors to happen before the Executive gave their report to Council. This was to insure that the new councillors would have speaking rights to ask questions during the Executive report. The agenda was then approved.
With President Kenny’s change to the minutes being passed, the Council moved into camera to hear and discuss the CRO’s report on the recent by-elections. After the results were approved, the new councillors were sworn-in. Alyssa MacKinnon is the new Residence Rep and Nicole Mann is the new Veterinary Rep.
The Council then moved into their regularly scheduled Executive Reports. As usual, President Dana Kenny began with his report. Kenny’s report contained several interesting updates. Kenny, with Accessibility Rep Kaylee Blackett, attended a meeting with Advanced Learning Minister Richard Brown about SMILE (Sensory-Motor Instructional Learning Experience), which will hopefully start at UPEI in September. He is also now on the Board of Governors Honourary Degree Committee with Alex Heighington. There was also a meeting with Pride PEI and Rainbow Alliance to help plan a high school GSA conference. Finally, the Tobacco Policy Review Committee will be launching Smoking Survey on Monday.
Following Kenny, Vice President Academic and External (VPAX) John Rix presented his rather lengthy report. Of particular interest was the transformation of his planned Advocacy Week. Rix originally planned on setting up individual lobby meetings between students and all members of the provincial legislature. After sending out the invitations, Rix got a phone call from Premier MacLauchlan offering a single presentation to the Liberal Caucus. After advice from his CASA colleagues, Rix gave up on his dreams and accepted the invitation. By his own admission, he still took solace in continuing in his plan with the Opposition members. Then got a phone call from PC MLA James Alyward for an Opposition Caucus meeting and accepted that as well. Thus, his dream of Advocacy Week died, but in exchange for a probably more efficient strategy. However, there is still a meeting with Green Party Leader and MLA Peter Bevan-Baker. Hoping this will lead to several items in the Provincial Budget.
Rix then noted that Mitchell Crouse will be presenting to the AXCOM committee on Monday to argue in favour of his divestment petition. Following this, the committee will report on their recommendations on divestment to Council at its next meeting. Rix also had a meeting with Holland College Student Union President Dave Campbell to discuss ways of align their competing advocacy meetings, which Rix noted have sometimes been at odds. A key part of this strategy will be having monthly meetings together to discuss their advocacy goals. Trying to start up with the collective bargaining units of the administration and faculty. Finally, Rix, as a board member of CASA, noted he would be attending a national advocacy conference where he would be presenting new CASA policies on undergraduate research, youth employment, recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission dealing with educational issues, and CASA’s first policy for university administrations dealing with sexual assaults on campus.
VPSL Hood reported on his activities for the past two weeks. ‘Answering social media prayers’, Hood noted that ‘Bieber Fever’ would be held at the Wave on Thursday. He is also completing schedule for Sex Week. Hood held a meeting with the Rainbow Alliance and Pride PEI about holding a dance at UPEI. Hood also noted that he would be presenting a recommendation about the Buddy Program later in Council.
VP Finance Zach Tweel then presented his report. Of fourth-wall breaking note, Tweel reported that the first meeting of Cadre Board of Directors had been held. He also updated the SU budget to reflect the new position of Director of Communications. Finally, Tweel reported that he would be going to the Campus Trust AGM this week.
Senate met on the 15th. The meeting consisted of updates on Academic Policy, including some overview on courses and pre-reqs. Notably, Mathematics and Computer Science are now one department.
Ombudsman Report on Resignations
The UPEISU has experienced a resounding 10 resignations over the past year. As a result, on Nov. 29th, Councillor Tayte Willows moved a motion, which was passed, to have the Ombudsman, Connor Mayhew, conduct a report into the amount of resignations, which he presented to Council at this meeting.
His report revealed that the most common reason for resignation was time commitments, with three out of ten resignations from this year being because of this issue. Another issue was ineligibility, as one councillor switched to Holland College and one moved to Idaho. One councillor resigned due to health issues. Zach Tweel resigned as Business Rep to be VP Finance. Nouhad Mourad, VP Communications over the summer, resigned due to her time commitments at the International Relations Office. Vet Rep Ellen Boyd did not respond to Mayhew but directed him to complaints in her resignation letter. Finally, VP Communications Alex Heighington resigned because she was ‘feeling not respected as a member of the executive team’.
At this point, Mayhew conveyed a message from Heighington that any questions are to be addressed to her and that does not want anything to do with her resignation discussed in a public forum. Mayhew then specified that he had meetings with the Executive to investigate the VP allegations which they disputed. Mayhew stated that he found no abuse of authority and that the Executive presented evidence which corroborated their claims.
Councillor Blackett asked the Ombudsman had any suggestions for avoiding a similar situation in the future. Mayhew said he did not feel comfortable making any proposed solutions as Ombudsman, and suggested that these come from Council. President Kenny then made a motion to have the Ombudsman provide a written copy of his report to Council, which was approved.
Senate Rep Zak Jarvis floated the idea of having a discussion in Council. Blackett suggested it may be more appropriate after having received the hard copy. Grad Senate Rep Awosile asked the Ombudsman for clarification; if he was presenting it to Council, or “closing the books” on the incident. Mayhew said he met with everyone involved in the VP Communications resignation and said that he found that the Executive gave “sufficient” evidence to refute her claims. Councillor Smith took umbrage at the assertion of evidence and wanted further discussion, stating that he preferred that the specifics be presented to Council. Councillor Rundle suggested that this discussion happen at the next meeting.
This suggestion was later rendered moot at the end of the meeting, when Ombudsmen Mayhew read a text from Heighington he had received, reiterating that she did not want her situation publicly discussed.
Director of Communications Transition
Transitioning into the Director of Communications transition report, Kenny made a motion to give Brenna Doucette speaking rights in Council. Doucette introduced herself as the new Director of Communications and outlined her three main priorities. The first is the SU website redesign, aan on-going goal for around the past year. She stated that she has set up meanings with several graphic design companies and is hoping to launch the new website by the end of the semester. She has also split Street Team into three subcommittees; one focused on the traditional Street Team advertising, one as a communications steering committee, and finally a committee focused on developing programming with the VPSL. Doucette is also developing an Action Plan to provide structure to future Directors to ensure professionalization in SU communications.
Elections By-law Update
This examination of the election by-law is the result of the previous council meeting, when Council sent the motion back to the Policy committee to make some changes. The crux of the changes are that if a councilor resigns before Dec. 31st, a by-election must be held. If there are no candidates, then someone can be appointed to represent the constituency in question. If the resignation happens after that date however, Council can summarily appoint someone from that constituency. This will be voted on at the next Council meeting on Feb. 7th.
Accessibility Rep Kaylee Blackett then moved her motion to have the Policy Committee and the Accessibility Representative review and examine her proposed inclusion policy and report back to Council on Feb. 21st. She explained that this policy was to ensure that all full-time students have access to SU services, regardless of accessibility issues, by creating a “barrier-free environment” for those who engage with the SU. Blackett constructed a draft policy based on research from other Student Unions.
Councillor Tayte Willows spoke in favour of the motion but asked if the month given would be enough time to look at it. After some discussion, President Kenny made an amendment to move the date the report would be presented to March 6th. Blackett came out against the amendment, arguing. Then it turned out there wasn’t a meeting on that date, so Kenny revised his motion to read for Feb. 28th, which Blackett seemed to agree to. Councillor Smith then spoke out for a longer extension, arguing that Policy’s plate was full and that he felt that the delay would not hinder Blackett’s other goals. VPAX Rix then complemented the motion, saying that it was almost ready, and then suggested that extra time would not be needed. The amendment was then passed, followed by the motion.
Buddy Program Future Direction
VPSL Hood then took the stand to give his recommendations on the future direction of the Buddy Program. Hood gave a brief overview of the program which designed to promote social integration for international students by pairing them with returning UPEI students. The Program is funded at $7500 annually, divided 50% between the International Relations Office (IRO) and Office of the Vice-President Academic. Time is split evenly between the Student Union and IRO. Hood noted that it is difficult to establish a long-term sense of direction for the Program with the SU, but the IRO has more consistency.
Hood argued that the SU should change from supervisory to advisory and give full supervisory powers to the IRO. To do this, reconvene and sustain Buddy Program Advisory Committee and find a home in the IRO. The IRO is interested in housing it under the Homestay Coordinator, which could help in advertising program to incoming international students. After completing his report, Hood moved a motion to have Council accept the recommendations and begin the transition. International Rep and current Buddy Program Coordinator spoke out in favour of the transition. It was passed.
Grad Student Support
Council Kate Rundle told Council that she attended a conference on graduate student issues. She noted that there is no formal orientation for incoming graduate students, unless the department itself plans to implement something. She noted that this is a particular problem for students who did not do their undergrad at UPEI and have no knowledge. She info package or advertisement campaign aimed at graduate students about the services the Student Union offers. After some discussion, it was decided that this issue would be taken on by the NIFD (New Initiatives and Future Directions Committee).
Updated Budget and Wave Business Report
VP Finance Zach Tweel proposed Council accept his new amended budget, taking into account the pay differences between the old position of VP Communications and the new position of Director of Communications. VPSL Hood then made a motion proposing to move $1000 budgeted for programming and giving it to the society initiative budget line. The Budget was then approved.
Tweel then presented the Wave’s November 2015 financial report. Sales per day, as well as expenses per day, were down this November from the same time last year. However, the restaurant and food sales have increased, which have helped. All in all, the Wave lost $6400 in November of this year, compared with $9300 last year.
Policy Committee Motions
Councillor Smith then presented two motions from the Policy Committee to Council. The first was restoring the fund for emergency by-elections and referendums to the amount of $300. The set rate paid for the CRO per by-election/referendum was to be set at $150. This motion was then passed.
The second motion dealt with Councillors who hold paid positions within the SU. The motion would give the Policy Committee the ability to re-draft internal documents within the Student Union to disallow people from concurrently serving as a councillor and in a hired position directly under the supervision of an Executive member. This includes positions like Clubs Coordinator, Policy and Research Coordinator, and Campaigns Coordinator. The only exception to this rule would be if a hiring board found that no applicants for a position were suitable, a new one would be held that would be open to councillors. Councillors can still apply for these positions, but if they are selected, they will be required to resign from Council. VPAX Rix asked if this could cause more by-elections, contrary to the motion they just passed. Councillor Smith said that it was unlikely that that would happen.
Confusion then arouse over the motion. There was confusion over whether councillors were able to keep their membership in council if hired after the second round of hiring boards, or if they were prevented from even applying until the second round, at which time, if they were hired, they would have to step down. Councillor Smith, President Kenny, and Chair Deziel, all members of the Policy committee, argued that the motion was intending the second interpretation. Several councillors argued that the first interpretation seemed to be what was implied by the reading of the motion. Councillors Shaw and Stultz, members of the Policy Committee, said that this was also their understanding of the motion. This confusion was later ‘solved’ by emphasizing that this motion was solely for the Policy Committee to examine these documents, the proposed changes of which would be debated at Council. The motion was then passed.
VPSL Hood then presented several new society ratifications. These were the result of changes in the sub-org by-law passed at the last council meeting to allow veterinary clubs ratified by SAVS to also be ratified by the SU. These included the Animal Welfare Club, Aquatic and Marine Wildlife Club, AVC Surgery Club, Feline Club, Canine Club, Teaching Animal Enrichment Club, Bovine Club, AVC Radiology Club, Integrative Medicine Club, Dentistry Club, AVC Equine Club, Pathology Club, Emergency and Critical Care, Small Ruminant Club, and One Health Coalition. The AVC Christian Veterinary Fund, Atlantic Veterinary Business Society, and the Lab Animal, Exotics, and Wildlife Club were not ratified because they were lacking the relevant information about their executive positions, but they will be ratified once they provide the SU with the relevant documents.
Business Representative Kamran Omar will be served with a notice of impeachment for missing his fourth council meeting. He has the ability to appeal his impeachment at the next meeting on Feb. 7th. If he does not appeal, this will be automatic.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:50pm.