The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is a council composed of a body of students elected by their peers, who are in charge of running the Acadia Students’ Union. The Council meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays at 5:15 PM in the Beveridge Forum which is located off of the Michener Lounge in the old Students’ Union Building (SUB). Every meeting is open to the public and students are encouraged to attend the meetings to learn more about the decisions being made on their behalf.
On March 19th the council met primarily to be presented with and discuss the Kings Transit UPass Agreement, presented by ASU General Manager, Ian Morrison and Kings Transit General Manager, Glen Bannon. Additionally, the Council received updates from the Student Life Committee and on the Hours of Work Policy followed by the proposal for the new budget by Jared Craig, VP Finance and Operations. The meeting received various project proposals from committee members along with a look at the Acadia Athletics Complex’s future projections.
Kings Transit University Bus Pass
The Council spent the first part of the meeting discussing the details of the Kings Transit University Bus Pass (UPass) agreement and service. As Ian Morrison, ASU General Manager, began to show the proposed agreement to Council he noted that he, along with Kings Transit, feel as though this agreement is a solid first step towards the process of implementing a UPass as well as being fully transparent with the Council. The agreement presented dictates the UPass fee will be $180 and can change by maximum 5% year to year for all full-time university students and any part-time or co-op students will have the ability to opt out of the fee if they like.
Morrison stressed that this is a two-tier agreement, meaning that in order for the UPass to become permanent it needs to pass through two referendums, one in the fall and one in two years. The UPass requires 25% of the student body to vote it in and provided that happens, Section 2 of the agreement states the term of this agreement will last from 2020-22, at which point a referendum must take place before the agreement is up. The agreement also highlights the perks of students being able to add a dependent onto the program along with a refund mechanism that will be in place in case of circumstances on campus where students do not receive a service.
Glen Bannon, Kings Transit General Manager, then took over the presentation as he showcased the service end of the UPass to Council. There are three main aims to this program: (1) Enhance student experience (2) Enhance distance and travel opportunities for a discounted price (3) Promote public transit to the students on campus. Bannon believes that the service will be able to successfully meet all three aims over the course of its run.
There will be year-round unrestricted travel on new transit routes, and the one travelling to Kentville will have a bus leaving every 30 hours during the extended hours of 10pm-12am. UPass will additionally offer round trip transportation between August 15th – May 15th from Acadia University to downtown Halifax with a minimum of two departures every Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon (Monday on the event of an extended holiday). Bannon also notes that four-day advanced booking is required and a stand by option will be available on the off-chance a student doesn’t show up.
The SRC responded to the service and agreement with reasonable questions which were answered by Morrison and Bannon effectively and justifiably. The agreement will be voted upon at the next council meeting.
Student Life Committee
Kyle Vandertoorn, VP Student Life and chair of the Student Life Committee (SLC) , provided the Council with an update of the ongoing SLC meetings that have been frequently taking place. Vandertoorn shared that the most recent meetings have revolved around preparing for the next year school year, particularly focusing on house council. Hiring for house council was supposed to take place Sunday, March 17th but due to a low number of applicants, the SLC has made the decision to reopen applications and to do interviews later on this month. The goal for the house council interviews is to make them more interactive so the applicants will have the opportunity to showcase their skills to the hiring committee. Additionally, the SLC went over the updated House Council Constitution and has been discussing that.
Regarding Cheaton Cup the SLC has been discussing various ways to get all the residences on campus involved and not just Chipman and Eaton. There has been a Chipman fan club started as a way to get these other residences involved as well as events such as pancake breakfasts taking place. The SLC is striving for Cheaton Cup to be a campus focus event uniting everyone through a healthy rivalry and not a party focus.
Hours for Work Policy
The Hours to Work Policy underwent some significant changes that ASU President, George Philp, highlighted to Council. The definition ‘Mental health day’ got changed to ‘Personal day’ which encompasses needing a break from meetings and duties in order to take a break to rest, focus on schoolwork etc. Philp noted ‘Personal day’ was more reflective of what the definition actually said. The changes also included the possibility for a leave of absence in any of the roles along with the implementation of ‘Sick days’.
Jared Craig, VP Finance and Operations, presented the budget for the next fiscal year. This budget addressed the minimum wage raise in Nova Scotia and how it affects paid individuals in the ASU along with the full-time staff wage gap and decreasing the gap significantly. Craig noted that his team recognized how dated the ASU website is and created a budget specifically for improving and updating the website in cooperation with the University. Regarding student fees, Craig discussed how they kept all service fees that they deemed necessary to the University and student fees will only increase from $187.4 – $193.85. The goal was to keep student fees relatively low and Craig expressed his content with the final number.
Craig stressed to the Council that as per usual, money is tight at Acadia and due to the amount of lost money from being closed during bar renovations at the end of last year and the ban that took place at the beginning of this year, we need to figure out how to address this loss. The goal for Craig is to have this new budget passed within the coming two weeks.
Acadia Athletics Complex Future Projections
It was announced to council that the Acadia Athletics Complex is looking into a 10+ year projection. Gabrielle Bailey, VP Events and Promotions, attended the original meeting regarding the projection and noted to council that the University views the pool as the biggest concern. It is currently very old and leaking and the University is looking for a good way to move forward with the concern. There is a push for the town to be paying more due to the fact that 75% of the individuals who use the pool are community members and not students.
In addition to the pool, Bailey was tasked with asking council for any suggestions on how to improve the Complex. Councillor Christopher Vanderburgh suggested the track become a few lanes wider to limit traffic and run more efficiently. With the increased popularity Sustainability Officer, Hannah Machat suggested a bouldering wall would be a key addition and it was also noted the locker rooms be redone. An audience member commented that the workout facility is too small and it would be a good idea to expand the gym later down the line along with a studio space be built for dance, yoga etc.
At the moment nothing is solidified and the 10+ year projection is currently just a ballpark estimate but could range anywhere from 5-15 years. The discussions are in their early stages and so far nothing regarding the Athletics Complex is set in stone.
All of the new business that was to be voted upon at this meeting was all projects and changes proposed at the last SRC meeting with the exception of Katie Winters’, Arts Senator, Culture Show which dealt with proposed changes discussed later in the meeting. Everything voted upon at this meeting was passed unanimously.
The meeting dealt with numerous project proposals, the first coming from First Year Officer Blake Steeves who proposed Acadia’s First Annual Freshmen Games to be held in the Acadia Sports Complex. Each residence can enter as many teams of 5 people as they want although 4 students must be freshmen on the team. Teams are required to be made from within your residence, there will be no mixing residences. The games will consist of physical and mental challenges and prizes will be awarded to the winners.
Hannah Machat, Sustainability Officer, proposed the implementation of lanterns in the Michener Lounge. These lanterns also serve as diffusers and it will spruce up along with providing light and comfort to the lounge. The money for these lanterns will be coming from the wellness budget.
A charity dodgeball tournament was proposed to take place on March 31st between 8-10pm. It will cost $2 per person and all proceeds will be going towards an alzheimers disease rehabilitation initiative. There is hope for 8 teams to enter but there is the expectation for more teams. Any money donated towards this fund is highly encouraged.
Rylie Moscato is a first year English student and Columnist for The Athenaeum