The Students’ Representative Council 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.
The September 18th, 2018 Regular Meeting of Council touched on several items brought forward by ASU President George Philp including a Tuition Increase Consultation Agreement, an ASU Statement of Autonomy, and a Memorandum of Understanding between the ASU, Acadia University and the Town of Wolfville.
Tuition Consultation Agreement
Following last year’s tuition increase of 6%, ASU President George Philp explained that questions had been raised about how proper consultation with students can be ensured in the future, which is a requirement for any tuition increase above 3% under the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Acadia University and the Province of Nova Scotia.
A draft Tuition Consultation Agreement, unanimously approved by Council, was brought forward by Philp and VP Finance and Operations Jared Craig in hopes of protecting the student body when it comes to future tuition changes. The memorandum addresses three specific instances where student consultation should be prioritized: increases in tuition, changes in ancillary fees (including residence, meal hall and other student fees) and the introduction of new fees. The document aims to create more accountability when it comes to implementing adequate student consultations.
ASU Statement of Autonomy
ASU President George Philp also brought forward a Statement of Autonomy for ratification by Council that outlines the legal autonomy of the Acadia Students’ Union and its authority to collect student fees, carry on businesses and to represent the student body of Acadia University. Philp suggested that this statement be read at the beginning of every future meeting to give it more recognition. Philp explained that the purpose of the statement was to ensure that it was understood by the university that the ASU has a legal right, especially when the Students’ Union Building is renovated.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Town of Wolfville, Acadia University, and the ASU
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the first of its kind in Canada according to Philp, will ensure that the Acadia Students’ Union has “a seat at the table” when it comes to making decisions and planning events that will be equally beneficial to the community and the university. The MOU is a relatively broad document that will be helpful in the future because it acknowledges the validity of the ASU’s perspective. It is worth noting that the original draft did not include the ASU but has since been re-negotiated to involve the interests of the Acadia Students’ Union and its members.
Not all Members of Council were supportive of the draft MOU, with Christopher Vanderburgh and Alyssa Hall voting against its adoption. There were specific concerns about individual provisions and the impact of them on the university community that were identified; however, the document is slated to be adopted by the Town Council later in the evening and by the Acadia Board of Governors at their October meeting.
Ailish Bergin is a second-year Politics major and Columnist for The Athenaeum