By Jason Herring, June 20 2018 —
The Students’ Legislative Council approved the Students’ Union annual budget and discussed revisions to the SU Elections Policy at their June 19 meeting.
Beforehand, Board of Governors representative Frank Finley gave a pre-report for the upcoming June 22 BOG meeting. He highlighted that Friday’s meeting will be the last BOG meeting until September.
Finley said that BOG will discuss a pair of significant infrastructure costs. The first is a $9.5-million renovation to the Schulich School of Engineering E Block intended to improve structural elements of the building, remove asbestos and improve its appearance. The second is a $7.2-million expansion to Faculty of Veterinary Medicine student facilities, intended to increase the faculty’s capacity by 20 students per year for each of the next four years.
BOG will also discuss changes to the tribunal process for appeals and the creation of an appeal body at both the General Faculties Council and the BOG levels. They will also review the upcoming Comprehensive Institutional Plan, a government-legislated plan that focuses on topics like the U of C’s expected revenue streams and enrolment numbers.
Finley finished his report by highlighting the U of C’s Implementation Plan for the Prevention of Sexual Violence on Campus. He said the school created a stand-alone policy last year and that they are now focusing on ongoing research and educational and outreach initiatives.
During executive reports, vice-president academic Jessica Revington did not read her report, which she sent in advance, but highlighted that seven of 12 SU-appointed election officials were in attendance at the June 14 GFC meeting.
SLC next moved to the second reading of the SU’s annual budget. Cumming School of Medicine representative Jarin Thundathil followed up on an inquiry from the previous SLC meeting by asking whether the budget could be circulated to members of SLC. Vice-president operations and finance Kevin Dang said he discussed the matter with SU general manager Jeff Marshall and decided not to circulate the budget, citing privacy concerns. Thundathil asked whether SLC could have a private, in-office viewing of the document — similar to what the SLC did with documents pertaining to the SU’s management of MacHall — to which Dang responded that the MacHall documents were more significant.
After this discussion, SLC members voted unanimously to approve the SU’s 2018–19 annual budget.
A discussion surrounding potential changes to the SU Elections Policy followed. Dang highlighted changes to the policy, including creating more clear definitions for slates and lowering the nominations signature threshold for candidates from the Faculties of Law, Social Work and Veterinary Medicine.
Dang also mentioned the addition of the clause, “and the General Manager or designate,” immediately following some policies granting authority to election Chief Returning Officers. Thundathil questioned the inclusion of this change.
“Are we saying the General Manager has a direct oversight in the management of the elections in a sense?” Thundathil asked.
“It’s to get some extra eyes — [it’s] common practice and to have more permanent staff look at [elections procedure] really helps,” Dang responded, with Revington adding that many large SU events have staff leads.
Other elected officials also raised concerns with a proposed change that would allow non-executive elected officials to work as campaign volunteers, as long as they do not display their affiliation with the SU while doing so. Haskayne School of Business representative Ananya Ayachit argued that this policy could put pressure on elected officials to engage in a conflict of interest. Thundathil added that this policy could have an especially large effect in smaller faculties.
SU president Sagar Grewal agreed with these points, suggesting that the policy could be changed so that campaigning would be restricted only within elected officials’ current roles.
“It would be great if we reconsider the point about EOs or appointed officials helping with campaigns,” he said. “I think it should be clarified that it is not okay to help with the position you’re currently in.”
The next meeting of SLC will be on July 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the MacHall Executive Council Chambers. Access executive reports, minutes and all other SLC documents here.