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SUS board discusses plans for the fall: Welcome Week, food bank, and the ERC

While UFV campuses have fallen quiet during the exam period of the early summer session, the Student Union Society (SUS) is keeping busy with preparations for the fall.

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By Megan Lambert (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: July 1, 2015

Photo Credit Megan Lambert

SUS held its meeting in its newly opened meeting room in the Student Union Building on the Abbotsford campus

While UFV campuses have fallen quiet during the exam period of the early summer session, the Student Union Society (SUS) is keeping busy with preparations for the fall.

The SUS board of directors called their June 25 meeting to order at 6:58 p.m. after a five-minute in-camera session and some technical difficulties connecting to professional studies rep Derek Ward-Hall via Skype, who is currently based at the UFV Chandigarh campus in India.

While most of the discussion revolved around planning, a motion was passed to remove the SUS funding for students’ extra educational development, such as conferences or workshops. In the 2015-16 budget, $8,000 was allocated for students who were approved for it. However, VP Internal Ricky Coppola explained that because UFV has its own educational enhancement fund, it renders the SUS line item redundant. He proposed to the board to move the funding over to the food bank or the student emergency fund.

VP External Sukhi Brar agreed, arguing that UFV has a thorough process to assess the benefit of additional training and the student’s need for funding, where students fill out forms and they are approved. She said SUS does not have that process.

The motion passed.

From there, the executives shared their reports from this month and plans for the following year, including stocking the food bank, stabilizing the equalities committee, and planning for Welcome Week in September.

Filling the food bank

Over the past couple of weeks, Brar has been stocking shelves in the new space for the SUS food bank, located on the second floor of the Student Union Building (SUB). At the meeting, Brar said she has met with the Abbotsford food bank, and the SUS food bank is now a satellite location, meaning it will receive stock from the community food bank.

She explained that SUS is deciding on a system on which the food bank operates. In the past, the Abbotsford food bank has operated on the points system — each food item is worth a certain amount of points, and each visitor is given points to spend. However, Brar notes this causes problems with stock.

“They really struggled to meet all the people that come to them. It was really hard to keep shelves stocked,” she says.

The Abbotsford food bank currently works on a hamper system, where visitors are given a basic bundle of different food items. Brar says SUS is looking at a combination of the two systems — having a base and leaving room for students to spend their points on additional items.

“Because of the food bank delivering a lot of our food, we have this stuff that doesn’t fit into what goes into a hamper — so we have extra items,” she says. “So people have some flexibility in what they’re getting.”

The equalities committee and Equalities Resource Centre

According to Brar, the equalities committee has recently finalized their mandate and goals.

College of Arts rep Ekaterina Marenkov said that some students are voicing concerns about the Equalities Resource Centre (ERC), since the planning has stopped for the time being.

Marenkov asked if the equalities committee meetings were made available to the public, and Brar said the meetings are closed but the minutes are available upon request.

Brar went on to say that the equalities committee is beginning to work on the idea of the ERC.

“There’s a lot of confusion around the equalities committee and the Equalities Resource Centre,” she says. “There seems to be this notion that a proposal was put forward and SUS took a proposal and passed it, but that isn’t the case. We approved a space and then tasked this committee to work together to create what that space will be.”

Marenkov asked if students outside of the committee can still submit a proposal, and Brar responded by saying the committee has only just figured out their purpose, and that there will be an opportunity in the future for external input from the broader UFV community.

She added that she hasn’t heard from concerned students and that she would be open to meeting with those who have questions.

“I invite anyone to come to me and talk about it,” she says. “There’s so much pressure on [the equalities committee] to have the space be a certain thing, and I know that stems from people being really excited for what it could be.”

Strategizing Welcome Week

Formerly known as Weeks of Welcome, Welcome Week is a condensed form of the annual fall semester kick-off for UFV students. Brar said the events committee is currently brainstorming and determining the cost of activities.

Suggestions from the committee include a concert, the traditional BBQ, a comedy night, and a foam party.

Brar said a large focus will be placed on recruiting volunteers for the week; the events committee is planning an orientation day, as well as an appreciation day after Welcome Week for volunteers.

Representative reports 

Faculty of health sciences rep Ria Geluk said that because most classes aren’t in session, she had little to report.

Board of Governors rep Greg Stickland said the annual planning session at Harrison Hot Springs on June 19 was his and Brar’s last meeting with the Board of Governors. He added that the Board heard presentations from the committee at large and talked about goals for the next year.

Ward-Hall had no report — but he did note that UFV Chandigarh has no student union, clubs, or associations.

Faculty of Science rep Joshua Wilke said he is in contact with the Faculty of Science, attending meetings and familiarizing himself with the department’s inner workings.

Faculty of Arts rep Ekaterina Marenkov had nothing to report.

Aboriginal rep Jennifer Janik explained that Aboriginal Access is having weekly meetings to coordinate a potential speaker series.

Executive goal plans

The executives also presented their goal plans to the board — a practice introduced to the Board of Directors last year. The goal plans were created to give the executives a timeline to refer to in their term, and to help the board to offer advice and keep the elected executives accountable. The executives offered brief comments about the year ahead. The Cascade will provide further detail about those plans in the coming weeks, as the plans have not been finalised and approved by the board.

The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m. The next SUS Board of Directors meeting is July 30 at 6:30 p.m. in room A2428 at the CEP campus in Chilliwack.

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