By Kristy Koehler, July 16 2019 —
Students for Direct Action has launched a campaign calling for increased mental health funding and changes to the Wellness Centre. SDA co-organizer Mateusz Salmassi tried to bring the group’s concerns to the Board of Governors meeting on June 21 but was told it was not the appropriate forum. In the absence of a question period or an open forum for gallery members to speak, Salmassi was instructed to consult with his student representative.
“I was asking a question from a place of seeking transparency, trying to find out what the funding is like for the Wellness Centre, trying to find out what avenues we can take to learn more and work with the university to find out how we can improve services because we know that this is a very rich institution,” said Salmassi.
Salmassi said he was surprised by the presence of campus security when he arrived for the meeting, assuming that university administration must have noticed the posters hung around campus indicating the group’s intent to bring their concerns to BOG.
“I found out that they knew I was coming and I guess were so worried that they needed two security officers outside and someone inside to keep a close eye on me. All I was hoping to do was ask some questions,” said Salmassi.
Alberta’s Post-Secondary Learning Act, Section 95.4, states that “the council of a students association is the official channel of communication between the students of a public post-secondary institution, other than graduate students in the case of a university with a graduate students association, and the board.”
Salmassi expressed concern that there is still not a second student voice on the board.
“We have two seats reserved for student voices. Right now, one of those seats — the student-at-large seat — is not filled because of an appeal process,” said Salmassi. “So, right now, we only have one student on the Board of Governors, our Students’ Union president Jessica Revington.”
When asked if this was something he plans to follow up on, Salmassi indicated that he had already spoken with Revington.
The bylaws of the Board of Governors of the University of Calgary do allow for addresses to be made to the board. Section 8.3 stipulates that “if a person who is not a Governor, the President, the Minister or their delegate, a Senior Officer or a guest approved by the Chair, the President or a Senior Officer, wishes to address the Board at any meeting, such person may do so if they have received the prior permission of the Executive Committee of the Board, or its successor, to do so.”
Salmassi expressed disappointment at his inability to present his concerns.
“This institution is ostensibly meant to be serving students,” said Salmassi. “Representatives from the population it’s meant to be serving are greatly outnumbered. It would do well to have an open hearing at the Board of Governors meeting — which is public anyway — maybe five to ten minutes where students can speak and ask questions themselves.”
The next BOG meeting takes place on October 18 at 8:00 a.m. Schedules and meeting locations are available online at ucalgary.ca/secretariat/meeting-schedules.