The Student Union Society (SUS) held its second-to-last board meeting of the calendar year on Friday, November 27 at Chilliwack’s CEP campus. At the meeting, VP internal Ricardo Coppola resigned from his position. Discussion also included the status of current SUS services and the potential of opening a new health centre on campus.
VP internal steps down
Coppola announced that he will be stepping down from his position as VP internal for personal reasons.
“With all the pressure of everything that’s happening, I believe that I need to step back a bit,” Coppola said. “It doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be helping in any way that I can.”
SUS’s bylaws don’t allow the society to hire a replacement for Coppola’s position, as all executive positions can only be determined by an election. Until SUS’s annual elections in the spring, Davies will be taking over the VP internal position on an interim basis.
“My position, although it will not be active — all my responsibilities ally to Thomas,” Coppola explained. “He’s obviously very familiar with the position because he was vice president internal last year.”
Davies clarified that while the bylaw prohibits hiring a replacement, he is able to delegate VP internal duties, and possibly in the future hire a student to help with the workload.
“It allows me to delegate the authority, which I fully intend to do,” he said. “Potentially, once we’re able to assess what we can adjust internally … it may require hiring [for] a student position on an interim basis to continue to assure the necessary work is completed.”
Davies also noted that the VP internal wage will not be added to his.
“That will be used to pay people for work that they’re doing as necessary,” he said.
According to its Elections Policy, SUS may hold a by-election in the event of a vacancy on the board, but since SUS by-elections must last the same amount of time as a regular election period, the board decided against it.
“Even if we would call [a by-election] at the last meeting, we would be holding a by-election about two and a half weeks before the general election … it would just be a mess trying to do that,” Davies said in a follow-up interview.
There is no clear provision in SUS’s bylaws for interim fulfillment of duties in the event of a vacancy. SUS is making the distinction that while it may hire a student to assist with work and pay them from funds allocated to the VP internal wage, that person would not be given the title and associated authority of a vice president.
Davies said in the same interview, “There’s actually nothing that technically says you can’t hire someone and call them the vice president … but [that person hasn’t] been elected by students.”
Board chair Zack Soderstrom ended the meeting by extending thanks on behalf of himself and the board for Coppola’s service.
SUS discussed how its services are doing to date, including the new IT tech support centre, which opened in the new Student Union Building this fall after a service-specific fee was approved by referendum in the spring of 2015.
Joshua Wilkie, a faculty of sciences representative who also works at the centre, noted that while he enjoys working there, it isn’t busy at all times.
“It is a great learning experience, but we do have lulls,” he said. “Our team is really good, which is great, but it does mean that we get our work done really quickly.”
Davies also touched on the success of the Canoe this year, and how it contrasts to business at Aftermath last year.
“In previous years what happened was everyone went to Aftermath in September, and then no one went in October and November.”
But this year has been different, and the Canoe has seen 50 to 60 more customers come through each day than Aftermath did last year.
Proposed SUS health centre
SUS further discussed its proposed health centre.
The centre will have open student positions including student nurses and clerks. These positions will be unpaid, but Davies specified that they are not simply volunteer positions, as the students taking them will be receiving course credit.
Along with regular health care workers, Davies stated that SUS is looking into also having a part-time psychiatric nurse at the clinic.
Although SUS does not yet have a concrete plan for how the health centre will operate, the tentative schedule includes it opening for four-hour shifts, two days a week.
At this time, SUS is researching available funding options.
“There are funding opportunities available both with external partners and grant funding to get this up off the ground,” Davies said.
With files from Valerie Franklin and Katie Stobbart.