The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is the body of students who are elected by their peers to run the Acadia Students’ Union. Council meets bi-weekly on Tuesdays at 5:15 PM in the Beveridge Forum which is located off of the Michener Lounge in the Students’ Union Building (SUB). All of their meetings are open to the public and students are encouraged to attend to learn more about their representatives and the decisions that are being made on their behalf.
Council met on October 30th, 2018 to discuss the upcoming By-Law Review, which was presented by ASU President, George Philp. There was also discussion around the Acadia University Strategic Planning Task Force, Provincial funding for electronic Mental Health Resources and Upcoming On-Campus Events and Consultations.
By-Law Review Update
Started at the end of the last academic year (2017/2018), the Acadia Students’ Union authorized funding in the amount of up to $10,000.00 for the ASU lawyer to conduct a thorough review of the Constitution and By-Laws of the Acadia Students’ Union to eliminate redundancy and contradictory language and to ensure efficiency and equality moving forward. ASU President George Philp brought the results of that review forward to Council and highlighted the main proposed changes.
Under the proposed changes, By-Law One (Students’ Representative Council Positions) would be amended to replace the existing elected Equity Officer position with a hired Diversity and Inclusion Representative. By hiring this representative, Philp shared that this would allow the ASU to ensure that they represent a minority group on campus. He also shared that he believes that such a position would ensure the diversification of Council into the future. The proposed changes would also aim to shrink the size of Council by eliminating two Councillor positions and making the Student Board of Governors Representative non-voting. Other proposed amendments would require the election of the sustainability officer, the mandatory attendance of certain executive members at Council meetings, and an improved changeover process between the outgoing and incoming Councils in April of each year. Members of Council would also not be allowed to hold any other positions in the ASU to avoid conflict of interest.
By-law Two (Students’ Representative Council Committees) would be amended to eliminate redundancies and to increase efficiencies on some committees. It is proposed that the Presidential Affairs Committee be eliminated, and the Financial Affairs Committee be combined with the Student Funding Committee. It is also proposed that the Review Board, instead of the Integrity Commissioner, will be the body to review complaints under the Council Code of Conduct, enacted under the 2017/2018 Council to govern the behaviour and conduct of Members of Council and Committee Members during their terms.
In By-Law Three (Union Elections Act), the electoral process will undergo extensive changes with the expansion of campaigning locations and the shrinking of the campaign period to ten (10) days. The proposed changes will also separate the Deputy Chief Returning Officer position from the Deputy Chairperson position, institute a coin toss in the event of a tie, and allow for acclamations, instead of yes/no votes for positions where only one candidate has come forward by the deadline.
By-Law Four (Referendum and Plebiscite Act) will undergo changes that will attempt to mirror By-Law Three (Union Elections Act) as close as possible. It will remove the petition process entirely, redefine the spending limits for referenda campaigns and eliminate the requirement that Members of Council remain officially neutral during referenda campaigns. Philp shared that this is because Members of Council are typically the ones leading such campaigns and are also the most knowledgeable on these subjects.
Acadia University Strategic Planning Task Force
Acadia University is in the process of creating a new Strategic Plan for the university and the ASU has appointed VP Academic and External Makenzie Branch to sit on the committee to represent students. The committee, comprised of Acadia faculty, staff, students and administrators, will discuss what Acadia University will look like in 2025. More information on the Strategic Plan Process can be found on the President’s website.
Upcoming Campus Events
ASU President George Philp shared that there are multiple upcoming events later this week and early next week where students could share their comments, questions and concerns on issues ranging from sexual violence on campus to food services and quality to the ASU By-Law Review.
Update on Electronic Mental Health Supports Funding
VP Academic and External Makenzie Branch provided an update to Council on her meeting with representatives from the Province of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia has approved funding for electronic health tools for Acadia’s campus with more information to be shared on ASU social media channels in the near future.
Ailish Bergin is a second year Politics student and a columnist at The Athenaeum.