The UPEISU Council met on September 24th for another productive meeting that featured a financial report for Back to School, several SU by-law amendments but still no executive evaluations.
President Hammad Ahmed attended a symposium on the development of a Doctor of Psychology Program at UPEI, which is in its initial stages. He also mentioned that the University Strategic Plan Advisory Committee met and discussed how to consult with its stakeholders.
Ahmed stated that issues with the SU website have been resolved; the website had been down for two weeks because the SU had forgotten to renew the website domain. Ahmed spoke about the new SimplyVoting system for elections and mentioned that candidate pictures and descriptions of why they are running will appear next to their names.
Ahmed also indicated that a share-and-borrow community bookcase will be placed in the student center, possibly before the end of the semester.
Vice President Taya Nabuurs began her report with an update on the Sexual Violence Task Force. Policy consultations on the forthcoming sexual violence policy are expected to happen in mid-October. Nabuurs also stated that UPEI has agreed to fund a student assistant to work with the task force.
Nabuurs remarked that she continues to receive questions and concerns relating to Career Connect, a provincial government program that allows students to collect EI benefits while going to a postsecondary institution. Nabuurs, along with SU Policy and Research Coordinator Colin Trewin, will be completing a report on the program to provide feedback to legislators.
Nabuurs reported that CFS national treasurer Peyton Veitch was recently in Charlottetown, and met with her and Ahmed to discuss policy priorities, including the ongoing work on the sexual violence policy at UPEI. Nabuurs said she had also requested copies of CFS bylaws and financial statements to share with the campus.
Vice President Student Life Megan Rix reported on Consent Week. The campaign garnered over 400 signatures of students who pledged to always ask for consent. The scheduled Consent Walk did not happen because of low turnout and the group that had assembled for the event had a discussion instead.
Rix commented on Homecoming, which she thought was fun and had a good turnout. She expressed hope that it would expand next year, perhaps by adding a homecoming party. Rix said she is busy preparing for Stress Less Night which is coming up with Pat Maloney. According to Rix, DJ Paqs from Big Brother Canada will be performing at the next Halloween pub but noted that no contracts have been signed to date.
Vice President Finance William McGuigan has been working with the Yearbook Editor to discuss what yearbook will look like this year and with The Cadre Editor-in-Chief to make office renovation decisions.
McGuigan spoke about Financial Literacy Day which he said went well, with good turnouts to the presentations given my Scholarships and Awards and Skills PEI. However, no students attended the presentation by CPA and RBC. McGuigan also said that Senate is working to get the finalized enrolment numbers which McGuigan will use to develop the amended budget. McGuigan also stated that September’s business performance numbers will be presented to Council mid-October.
Back 2 School Pub Financial Report
Vice President William McGuigan presented a financial report on the SU’s Back 2 School Pub. The event generated a net profit of $2,589.32, although, this was a 51% decrease from the $5,228.12 that was generated in 2016. The financial report showed that ticket sales were down which coincided with a decrease in bar sales. McGuigan attributed the decrease in turnout to the fact that the event was hosted on the second day of school (Back 2 School Pub was also hosted on the second day of school in 2016).
Following the report Council questioned the cost of security for big events; according to the report, the SU paid $1,760 for UPEI security and $1,548 for Wave security. McGuigan stated that the SU has an agreement in which it pays for UPEI security at SU wet/dry events. Councillor Michael Ferguson was critical of the agreement and requested that a copy be brought to Council for review. Councillor Brendan Curran inquired about the cost of event fencing, which is currently rented on an event-by-event basis. Curran asked if there was a way to buy the event fencing to cut down on future expenses; McGuigan said it was something they could further evaluate.
McGuigan also presented the SU’s $2000+ expenditures. This includes credit card expenses as well as over $4000 for Ilona Daniels, who was contracted to redo the Wave’s menu.
Debate ensued over adding the director of communications to the SU executive committee. Curran questioned the proposal, asking why the director needed to sit on the committee when the communication issue could be addressed by improving communication between individual executives and the Director of Communications. He also mentioned that the executive committee might discuss confidential information to which the director of communications should not be privy. The executive members of Council stated that having the director would remove an extra step in the communication process and streamline the dissemination of information. Ultimately, the amendment to the executive committee bylaw was approved. It was opposed by Curran and Ferguson.
After MUCH deliberation, Council finally came to a consensus to amend the Council bylaw to allow a single meeting extension of thirty minutes per meeting. The bylaw previously allowed Council to extend the meeting by fifteen minutes an indefinite amount of times.
Council also approved a bylaw amendment to add the Associate Director of Communications and a student-at-large to the clubs & campaigns committee.
Senate representative Erin McNeill reported that UPEI Vice President Administration & Finance Jackie Podger will be developing a new storm closure policy. The UPEI board of governors had previously approved a new storm policy in January 2017. The Cadre reached out to the Office of the Vice President Administration & Finance who clarified that a new policy was not being developed but rather a new set of procedures were being drafted to support the existing policy.
Council voted to approve an external policy on sexual violence. The policy contained a review of the economic costs of sexual violence, and how other provinces are responding to the issue in a postsecondary education context.
The Student Union voted to ratify two clubs: the African Students Association and Applied Human Health Research Club.
Absent from the meeting was any discussion of the results of the executive evaluations, which are conducted by councillors to assess each executive member’s performance. Per the SU’s executive bylaw, evaluations are to be conducted in August and December. At the first Council meeting of the year on September 10th, it was noted that the surveys had not yet been circulated but that they would be sent to councillors following the meeting. However, councillor Erin MacNeill inquired about the evaluations at the September 24th meeting, revealing that Council has yet to receive the survey. Chair Zak Jarvis replied that the SU’s new initiatives and future directions committee had to meet to approve the evaluation questions before the survey could be circulated, and could only do so now that members had been appointed to the committee. (Editor’s note: while the NIFD committee has historically developed and updated evaluation questions on an as-needed basis, there is no active governance requirement for the committee to approve questions on an ongoing question.)
Council also voted to set the annual general meeting time to 7:00 pm on October 4th. Council further made the decision to move their Sunday, October 15th Council meeting to Saturday, October 14th to coincide with their Council retreat in Stanley Bridge. Unfortunately, the Cadre will not be there to cover the meeting.
Remember folks: democracy dies in darkness!
By: Nathan Hood & Lorelei Kenny