SRC Decoded: What you missed February 12th

The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is a council composed of a body of students elected by their peers, who are tasked with running the Acadia Students’ Union (ASU). The SRC meets every Friday at 1:00 PM on Teams, however, they would usually meet in the Beveridge Forum located off the Michener Lounge in the Students’ Union Building (SUB). Each meeting is open to the public and students are welcome to attend meetings to learn more about the decisions being made on their behalf.

The meeting started as per usual with a role call and the passing of the agenda. Chairperson Molly Anderson ensured there were no questions, presented the previous meeting’s minutes, which were quickly accepted, and stated that there were no presentations or tables of matters.

 

Report to Council: Board of Governors Meeting

The first matter of business was a report to the council from the Board of Governors meeting which happened on February 12, by Brendan MacNeil. He gave a brief summary, stating that student engagement in the university’s activities was much higher this term, both in terms of their participation in and running of events, as well as their physical presence on campus. Brendan suggested that this means students are feeling much more stable studying during these unprecedented times. Brendan also mentioned that the new vendor for the student health and dental plan has been finalized and that they will be releasing that information within the next week or so.

 

Updates

The meeting moved on to address committee updates, and the Sustainability Officer, Alex Surette, took the lead. He said that he is currently looking to gain members on his committee and that he is also meeting with the Town of Wolfville Environmental Sustainability Committee to discuss plans with the Dykes regarding climate change-induced flooding. Alex also mentioned that he is working with Acadia’s Sustainability Representative and got funds approved for new waste management in the SUB which is going in this week!

Soyini Edwards, the Diversity and Inclusion Representative followed, giving her updates. Soyini explained that their committee has been more focused on the larger Acadia Diversity and Inclusion Committee but that she is working on making the smaller ASU committee more cohesive too.

Next was VP Student Life, Robbie Holmes, who says his upcoming goal was to reach out to our international student population, as many of them have shown interest in joining the committee at the university.

Blake Steeves, VP Events and Promotions, finished off the updates by explaining that his committee has had trouble coordinating their meetings recently, but that he has been working on organizing more events for students in the weeks to come.

 

Bylaw Referendum Question

Brendan MacNeil led the meeting into their next topic: the bylaw referendum. He discusses the process that has been happening under the Governance Committee, wherein the bylaws are being entrenched into the constitution. However, the constitution dictates that this process cannot happen without a referendum which acquires at least a two-thirds majority vote from the students, therefore a referendum vote needs to be on the next election’s ballot. The official question would read: “Be it resolved that the ASU by-laws be added into the ASU constitution, referred to as Article 1 of the bylaws, starting at bylaw Article 4”. However, the issue was wording this question in a way that’s accessible for all Acadia students. Zach Goldsmith elegantly suggested a clarity paragraph that could be put above the question, explaining its significance, and other members on the council seemed agreeable to his statement. Brendan MacNeil suggested that these proposed changes go into effect May 1st, 2021, in accordance with the transition of roles in the SRC.

Tensions rose in the meeting as council members such as Lydia Houck and Blake Steeves brought up their concern with the order of events regarding their changes to the bylaws as well as the amendment of the constitution. To give some context, the SRC is currently working on refining their current bylaws, and the concern surrounds the issue of students voting to entrench a set of bylaws into the constitution which they have not yet seen, and which could be continually changed until April 30th. Brendan MacNeil suggested that this was inevitable if the council wanted to achieve both before the end of the term. Lara Hartman, the Arts Senator, and a graduating Politics student shared her opinion, agreeing that it seemed “snakey” and that she suspected if students had a full understanding of the situation, the vote may not go through.

Zach Goldsmith spoke next, explaining that though he understood those concerns, he believes the ultimate goal of the referendum – protecting the bylaws from being changed on a whim – is extremely important and suggested adding that these bylaws are still under review into the referendum question.  Robbie Holmes echoed Zach, adding that he saw value in ensuring that the bylaws that they were cementing were appropriate and worthy of being entrenched, but also reinforcing the shared concern of having students vote on something they do not know.

Brendan Keeler spoke up, saying he agrees there is reason to ensure the security of those bylaws. Soyini Edwards agreed that so long as students fully understood the implications of this referendum, then that it was a good idea. Brendan MacNeil quickly added that he felt this decision would be empowering to the students, in that it would protect the fabric of their government from rash decisions in the future.

An abstention option was proposed to provide students who perhaps didn’t feel comfortable or knowledgeable an option to abstain from voting on certain issues, which several council members supported, while others worried that providing this option would make the running of elections vulnerable to being redundant.

After some discussion about the logistics of the abstention option, Brendan MacNeil put forward the motion to include the ASU bylaws be added under the ASU constitution, beginning May 1st, 2021.  Lara asked if the question could also include a place for a description of what the question is proposing, to give students context. Brendan agreed and proceeded to propose the motion and included adding a description to the question that is reviewed by the council the following week. Brendan MacNeil abruptly left the meeting, so the motion he brought forward died (as no one seconded it), and a new motion was proposed, which read “motion to add ASU bylaws to the ASU constitution upon the approval of proposed bylaw amendment by the 2020/21 Student’s Representative Council”. Lydia Houck seconded that motion but was opposed by a massive majority of the rest of the council, and the motion failed.

The conversation regarding the election ended as chairperson Molly Anderson said she needed consultation before moving that conversation any further forward.

The meeting ended shortly thereafter.

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Author: Sofia Munoz

Sofia is studying in her second year at Acadia University.

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