A year of SUS in a nutshell
September: Announced official closure of the Canoe restaurant due in part to $300,000 deficit
September: Built a half basketball court for an undisclosed amount
September: Relaunched the food bank in collaboration with UFV
September: Cancelled $20,000 concert
October: Cancelled by-elections due to the only candidate dropping out of the election
October: Added school buses to the Langley shuttle bus route
October: Changed clubs and associations policy to allow funding only for fundraiser events
January: Raised prices at Fair Grounds
January: Created an Equity-Diversity-Inclusivity (EDI) team that hosts biweekly chat sessions
February: Launched an anti-racism campaign
Gurvir Gill (president)
The president is the face of the Student Union Society (SUS). They provide strategic direction and oversight for the organization’s programming and plans, and leadership for executives, employees, and volunteers.
[Y] Advanced Leadership Programs (ALP)
ALP launched last year and has since brought over a dozen speakers in 10 modules to the Student Union Building (SUB) to discuss topics ranging from the opioid crisis to domestic violence.
[Y] Open door policy
The door may not be physically open but the sentiment still stands. While there is no evidence of the hundreds of one-on-one meetings claimed from Gill’s previous term as president, his online executive reports indicate at least 20 one-on-one meetings with students over his current term.
[N] Videos introducing students to SUS services
Gill’s goal was to create a series of eight videos discussing various services provided by SUS, including the Pride Centre, the computer lab (which doesn’t exist), and the health and dental plan. Only one video has been published on the student union website featuring UFV President Joanne MacLean welcoming students for the fall semester.
This was also one of Gill’s goals last year, which was not achieved for reasons unspecified.
[Y] The food bank
The on-campus food bank was relaunched this fall in collaboration with UFV’s Student Life. SUS’s contribution to the collaboration was donating a room and freezers for the food bank to use on the second floor of the SUB. Student Life organizes the entire food bank, putting together the hampers and acquiring the food, and provides the staff to run it.
[Y] UFV/SUS IT centre
When SUS’s previous contract with Geeks Are Us was up, they partnered with UFV’s IT services to allow for personal student devices to be supported. The fee students previously paid toward the SUS FixIT service of $5.16 now goes to the SUS-UFV tech support service.
[Y] Outdoor project
The student union spent an undisclosed amount to add in a small bus shelter in front of the SUB and to extend the pathway leading to the shuttle bus stop. They also built a large cement platform outside of the SUB that has two basketball hoops. SUS has balls available for students to borrow from the front desk.
[?] SUS orientation
Last year Senate granted SUS a two-year trial for a dedicated New Student Orientation day, effectively moving the academic calender back one day. SUS held an orientation day in the fall semester that saw around 400-500 students throughout the day. However, in the winter semester SUS decided to host the orientation day on Monday, the first day of classes, instead of the given Friday, due to concerns of potential turnout.
When Gill presented the results of the two days to Senate, concern was expressed over the lack of data collected for the winter orientation day and the separation of genders for the sexualized violence orientation training.
[?] Exam study space
Evered Hall had tables placed in it this fall exam period for student use, but the building was not open any later than usual, as it has been in the past.
[N] UFV/SUS Reconcili-ACTION
There have been no announcements or comments from SUS regarding any reconciliation initiatives.
[N] Sexualized violence training mandate
There has been no mention of mandated sexualized violence training from SUS. During their Fall 2018 orientation, SUS ran two sexualized violence orientation workshops: one on toxic masculinity, restricted to males, and one on consent, restricted to females.
Jaleen Mackay (vice president internal):
The VPI is the secretary and treasurer of SUS. They arrange board meetings and the Annual General Meeting (AGM), ensure bylaws and policies are being followed, and oversee financial matters, including the creation of the annual budget. They also provide support for clubs and associations and help in their operations.
[?] Release test survey regarding mission, vision, and value statements
Last summer a test survey was sent out to some students. The survey, according to Mackay’s report, had three questions (two of which were the same) and received between 45 and 46 responses per question. The executive report does not clarify the questions asked in the survey, and we were unable to find anyone who had actually received the survey.
[N] Develop mission, vision, and value statements for SUS
There has been no announcement or comments regarding work on the SUS mission and value statements since August 2018.
[?] Complete comprehensive policy review
Mackay did not comment in time for publication, but from the executive reports online it appears to be a work in progress.
[Y] Revise clubs and associations (C&A) policies and documents
Throughout this term Mackay revised all of the C&A documentation. Major changes included only providing funding to C&A for fundraising initiatives, and allowing student groups to request funding from the C&A budget. Student groups will be eligible to receive 70 per cent of the approved funding upfront, while C&A are eligible to receive 50 per cent of funding upfront.
Mackay said part of the reason for the change was to encourage C&A to ask for membership fees, as well as to allow C&A to be more independent with their money.
[N] Work closely with Student Life to make event proposals and co-curricular records easier
Student Life said they have had no discussions with SUS specifically regarding co-curricular records.
[?] Review and make edits to the SUS website
Mackay did not respond in time for publication regarding any review she has done on the SUS website. There is no mention of the review in any of the available executive reports.
MacKay had a number of goals labeled as “other goals.”
[N] Board of directors meetings to start at a consistent time
On paper, SUS board meeting public sessions are supposed to start at 5 p.m. in the room indicated on the schedule. In practice, there are often unannounced room changes and the occasional last minute, unannounced meeting cancellation. Meetings can start anywhere from 4-6 p.m., and not always at the posted time.
[Y] Put a temporary draft land acknowledgement into board of directors agendas/minutes
There is a land acknowledgement statement in the current posted minutes, starting in July 2018. The previous land acknowledgement had been omitted from the minutes in October 2017 for unknown reasons.
[?] Prepare revised draft bylaws for presentation to the board
We are unable to confirm this as, although board minutes are supposed to be posted within two days of being approved, no minutes have been posted since October 2018.
[Y] Plan a C&A week with SUS’s VPS and UFV’s Student Life
U-Join did happen this year as a collaboration between Student Life and SUS.
[Y] Solicit student input on board reform
A survey was sent out this January asking students their opinions on changing the structure of student representative positions on the SUS board of directors. The reason given was that SUS thought the low participation on the board may be due in part to the board structure, which requires students to be registered in a particular program to run for a position.
Rajdeep (Raj) Dhaliwal (vice president external)
The VPE acts as liaison between SUS and the academic side of the university. Their primary role at SUS is advocating for the students on academic and student-related issues, and communicating with local partners.
The VPE also represents SUS on a number of academic and policy issue committees; Dhaliwal is part of many committees, including CASA’s federal policy committee, and UFV’s Senate, Senate awards and honors, and South Asian Community Advisory Committee.
[Y] [N] Additional paid for course materials to have an assessment cap of five per cent
Dhaliwal advocated for educational materials such as MyLab Writing and Mastering Chemistry that students have to pay for to have a limited assessment value on students grades, but said this is something that cannot be mandated according to the Collective Agreement with the Faculty and Staff Association (FSA).
[Y] [N] International student tuition changes
International students at UFV are charged a flat rate of 15 credits per semester, even if they take under 15 credits. Dhaliwal advocated to Senate for international students’ tuition to be credit-based, as they are for domestic students. Senate said in January that recommendations for international student tuition changes would be presented in May 2019.
[Y] [N] Sexual violence/bullying and harassment policies
SUS has spent considerable time advocating for changes to the sexual violence policies to UFV’s vice president students and various committee. According to Mackay’s executive report, an “action plan” draft was created with Dhaliwal for UFV, but Dhaliwal said that SUS is at a standstill in negotiations around the policies.
[Y] [N] Fall reading week
Dhaliwal said that advocating is ongoing for a fall reading break. A proposed schedule will possibly be presented to Senate that includes the provincially required 61-day semester instead of UFV’s 63 to 65.
[Y] [N] Course offerings
Making course offerings mandatory for all departments three years in advance was advocated for, but Dhaliwal said this is something that cannot be mandated according to the Collective Agreement with the Faculty and Staff Association (FSA).
[Y] [N] Course evaluations
Dhaliwal advocated for students to be able to evaluate their professors at the end of every semester. This was again something that cannot be mandated according to the Collective Agreement with the Faculty and Staff Association (FSA). It is being looked into to allow students to do course evaluations for each semester.
[Y] [N] Exam schedule
Course exams are not always in line with the course times. While this was advocated for, it may not be something that can be achieved because of the method UFV uses to generate the exam schedule.
[Y] [?] Counselling services
UFV has agreed to mention the Empower Me service offered through the SUS health and dental plan when discussing counselling options at UFV.
[N] [N] Review Baker House policies
[?] Group study guidebook
The guidebook will look to “encourage fair grading [on the] amount of work being done by members.” It is not yet complete but is expected next semester. No other updates have been given.
[N] Short monthly surveys
No monthly surveys have been sent out to the student body.
[Y] Land acknowledgement
There is a land acknowledgement statement in the current posted SUS board minutes, starting in July 2018. The previous land acknowledgement had been omitted from the minutes in October 2017 for unknown reasons.
[Y] Municipal Q&A
Dhaliwal organized a Q&A session for all mayoral candidates on the UFV Abbotsford campus during the recent Abbotsford elections.
(Sunny) Cheema (vice president students)
The VP students is a new portfolio involved in student engagement and programming organization. As a new portfolio, there have been some changes and tweaks over the year. Most notably was the hiring of an events and programing manager within SUS, changing the focus of the VP students from event planning to a more oversight and student engagement-oriented role.
[Y] Ping Pong Tournaments
[Y] Mental Health Awareness Week 2018
[Y] Paint Nights
[Y] Halloween Party
[Y] Clubs & Associations Week
[Y] Winter Funderland
[Y] Restart Foodbank
[N] SUS Intramurals
[N] Nap Time
[N] Sports Day
[N] Condom/Tampon Availability
[N] Year-End Party
[N] Events Calendar
[N] “Hug Me” Drink Machines
[N] Second Looks
[N] Martial Day
[N] Showcase Mindfulness Practices
[N] Holiday Gift Exchange
[N] Activities in the Atrium
[N] Clean Up @ UFV
[?] Multicultural Day
[?] Rape Kit
Image: Mikaela Collins/The Cascade