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 Wednesday at 5:30 PM in the Beverage 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.
Council met this week to discuss the Black, Indigenous, People of Colour Caucus (BIPOCUS) Proposed Budget, the updated Acadia Students’ Union Travel Policy, and the Vice President of Finance’s Position Report. All in all, this week’s council meeting proved to be very informative.
Black, Indigenous, People of Colour Caucus (BIPOCUS)
The Black, Indigenous, People of Color Caucus (BIPOCUS) is an organization within the Acadia Students’ Union created by Acadia students. The group focuses on equity on campus, including any issues that may impact a person’s experience or education at Acadia University.
Makenzie O’Quinn and Soyini Edwards are co-presidents of the Black Students Association and the Indigenous Students’ Society of Acadia. The BIPOCUS Working Document states, “O’Quinn and Edwards were being asked to work and provide insight on items which fell largely outside of the mandate of their societies. This has resulted over the past several years with labour far exceeding the labour experienced by other clubs under the ASU.” BIPOCUS is the result of the need of an assisting organization to help the two presidents balance all of their duties.
According to the BIPOCUS Constitution 2019/2020, the organization’s mission is:
- To provide solidarity between Black, Indigenous, or students of colour at Acadia University.
- To increase advocacy capacity for members of the Black Students’ Association and the Indigenous Students’ Society of Acadia, as well as Black, Indigenous, and students of colour at large.
- To begin breaking down systemic and historical barriers between Indigenous and Black students and the Acadia Students’ Union.
- To increase the availability of student leadership opportunities for Black, Indigenous and students of colour at Acadia University.
The group plans to fulfill its mandate by hosting weekly meetings and attending conferences. Additionally, BIPOCUS aims to increase the representation of students as well as the diversity of the council’s members by sitting on Senate. The caucus will be working closely alongside Edwards, who is also the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion officer of the ASU, as well as with the Black Student Advisor, the Office of Indigenous Affairs the Equity Office, Welkaqnik and the Wong International Centre.
While BIPOCUS does accept membership of individuals who are not black, indigenous, or students of colour, only members who are within the listed categories above will be granted voting rights in accordance with the Human Rights Act Section 6, Subsection c (ii). This being said, BIPOCUS welcomes everybody’s support.
ASU Travel Policy
ASU President Kyle Vandertoorn brought to council the ASU travel policy which includes conferences or board meetings that take place outside of Wolfville. Kyle began the discussion by announcing some exciting new changes to the policy.
Firstly, the changes addressed that in regard to travelling to places where meals are not otherwise provided, the previous budget was $7.00 for breakfast, $10.00 for lunch and $15.00 for dinner. ASU president, Kyle, comments, “it is embarrassing that people often cannot afford to tip or even afford their entire meal under this budget and they often have to dip into their own pockets”.
The policy has been updated significantly to $10.00 for breakfast, $15.00 for lunch and $35.00 for dinner according to the ASU Travel Policy Section 2, Subsection a (i – ii). Vandertoorn explained that the budget for dinner was originally $25.00; however, incidental expenses were incorporated. This change means travellers will have an extra $10.00 to help pay for any unforeseen expenses, such as toothbrushes or medication.
Secondly, students and employees who are commuting to conferences and other events in their own vehicles are now eligible for reimbursement for how far they travel. The ASU Travel Policy Section 5, Subsection c (iii) states, “employee may be reimbursed for mileage at a rate set by Nova Scotia Kilometrage and Transportation Allowance Rates for government and public-sector body employees”.
This new addition to the travel policy is extremely helpful in preventing Acadia University students and staff from having to spend their own money to attend events that are mandatory for their position.
Vice President of Finance Position Report
Brendan MacNeil, VP of Finance and Operations, kept the council up to date today on the ASU’s revenue and expenses. He explains that there are three main contributors to the ASU’s revenue: alcoholic beverages and food sold at The Axe, health and dental plans, and the student union fees that students pay.
While health and dental plans and student union fees each make up 25% of the ASU’s total revenue, MacNeil informs the council that retail sales are down, referring to Cajuns shop and the Union Market, which bring in about $40,000.00 to $50,000.00 per month. Additionally, The Axe is also experiencing a decrease in sales with a drop of approximately $30,000. This may seem like a rather large reduction, but MacNeil shared that labour expenses have decreased greatly as well which has helped the ASU to balance expenses. A full ASU budget will be out by the end of April.
Nonetheless, the ASU appears to be in good shape. Sales have decreased but expenses have also decreased, and largely at that. As a result, the ASU income has increased significantly from $18,000.00 to $400,000.00.
Moreover, the Investment Policy is in the process of being rewritten (it is due every 5 years to be revised and adjusted). On this, MacNeil is excited to announce, “I and the Sustainability Officer are exploring the possibility of adding a line that says our portfolio will not invest in fossil fuel companies.” There is more to come in on the ASU’s investment account in the next few weeks.
The only announcement this week was from Sustainability Officer, Max Abu-Laban who wants to thank everyone who was involved in his “Talk to Me About Climate Change” event for all of their support. The event, which took place Tuesday, February 4th, was a huge success.
Abu-Laban announces to the council that there is another climate strike taking place this Friday, February 7th at the clock tower on Main Street, for anyone who is looking to get further involved. Abu-Laban also added that 10-year-old activist, Lily from Gloosecap, Nova Scotia, will be attending the event and will speak on U-Hall Hill. She has inspired students at Acadia with her passion for the environment twice already and will be back for a third time to do it again.