SRC Decoded: What You Missed April 2nd

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 April 2nd the council met to vote on multiple motions, including the Kings Transit University Bus Pass (Upass) Agreement and referendum question. George Philp, ASU President, presented news from the Board of Governors along with a federal budget update from The Government of Canada. Additionally, the Special Election Exit report was also scheduled to be discussed this evening and the meeting was graced with significant audience turnout.

Kings Transit University Bus Pass Agreement

The meeting began with the objective of voting on the Kings Transit UPass Agreement (MOU) that was proposed to council two weeks ago. Sebastian Farkas, Councillor, kicked off the discussion with the expression of some concerns regarding the MOU to the council and suggested that instead of the Upass being mandatory, an opt-out would be a significant addition to the agreement. Councillor Jonah van Driesum supported Farkas’ proposal, adding that the $180 dollar fee may be too much for some students to pay. In response to both Farkas and van Driesum, Meg Hodges, an elected Councillor for the Municipality of Kings and Board Chair for King’s Transit Authority, announced that Kings Transit has discussed the addition of an opt-out but the goal is to not increase the fee past $180 and adding an opt-out would cause the price to rise for students who do not opt-out.

Dahlia Chahine, Student Board of Governors Representative, expressed the concern that if the Upass wins a majority vote in a referendum, then there may be a backlash from the 80% of the student population that typically doesn’t vote during by-elections. ASU President George Philp responded to this concerning by stating that the last by-election dealing with a matter similar to this (Axe renovations) had a significant uptake in voter participation due to the subject matter of the vote differing from normal elections. While Philp cannot predict the turnout for a Upass vote, the Axe renovation vote does provide some insight into a potential case.

The conversation regarding the MOU continued for a few minutes before leading into the vote. Ten members of council voted to pass the MOU with two members voting against, resulting in the Kings Transit Upass Agreement being passed and the Upass moving to a referendum in the fall.

Kings Transit University Bus Pass Referendum Question

Directly following the conclusion of the vote on the Kings Transit University Bus Pass Agreement, the council began to discuss the referendum question that will be presented to students voting in the fall. Amar Randhawa, Professional Studies Senator, suggested it would be a great idea to add the $180 fee to the actual referendum question. This would change the question from “Do you support the implementation of a mandatory Bus Pass (“UPass”) Program, which includes the following terms?”, to “Do you support the implementation of a mandatory fee of $180 to pay for a Bus Pass (UPass) Program”. Some members from the gallery rebutted Randhawa’s suggestion, stating that the proposed new question seems slightly slanted towards the Upass being a negative idea. The table then discussed how they could potentially change the question to include the $180 fee in a different way. There were many suggestions from the council regarding stressing the mandatory fee and the best way to do so.

Eventually the motion to leave the referendum question as is was presented to the council with eight members voting to pass the referendum question as is and four members voting against.

New Business

All of the notice of motions from last week were scheduled in the agenda to be voted upon during this SRC meeting. The council voted unanimously to accept the changes made to both the Operating Procedure #3: Policy Development and the Student Organization Registration Procedure. The council also voted unanimously to pass the Student Organization Funding and Services Procedure which is a new policy determining how student organizations apply for funding and what funding they are deemed eligible for.

Board of Governors

Philp announced to the council that they are required to appoint one executive member and one non-executive member from the in-coming SRC to be representatives on the Board of Governors. Philp nominated Yoram Schroll, incoming VP Finance and Operations, to the council as the executive representative due to the fact Schroll has expressed interest to Kyle Vandertoorn, incoming President. Philp noted to the council that traditionally the executive representative is the VP Finance and Operation because the Board of Governors typically discusses a lot of financial aspects in their meetings. Additionally, Schroll is an international student and will add some international representation to the Board of Governors. The motion to appoint him was presented to the council and passed unanimously.

Nicole Kirkpatrick, incoming Science Senator, has also expressed interest to Vandertoorn and was nominated to be the non-executive representative on the Board of Governors. Philp explained that Kirkpatrick will be in Wolfville over the summer which is important as the Board of Governors first meeting of the fiscal year takes place during the summer. It would be an additional Bonus, Philp added, if the Board of Governors had more female representation on their board. The motion to appoint her was presented to the council and passed unanimously.

Special Election Exit Report

The Special Election Exit Report was due to be accepted by cancel today but Philp proposed the motion to table the report in order for council members to have more time to look over it. The council unanimously voted to table the report until next week.

Federal Budget

On March 19, 2019, the Federal Government of Canada released its 2019 budget which Philp presented to the council during this meeting. Philp announced that student researchers will benefit from new master’s and doctoral level scholarship awards from the federal government, as well as the addition of an extended paternal leave if necessary. The federal government is set to invest $630 million over 5 years towards work-integrated learning programs such as co-ops and internships. It is estimated that this investment will create 84,000 new work opportunities for students. Additionally, the federal government plans on helping students with disabilities who often require specialized equipment to assist them in their studies and the grant provided to help cover these costs is being raised from $8,000 to $20,000 a year.

Rylie Moscato is a first year English student and incoming News Editor of The Athenaeum

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Wow! It’s interesting to see how divided the council is on the Upass. But don’t they realize that although they represent us they can’t take our rights away to vote by speaking for us? If the agreement looks okay let us decide if we want the Upass or not. I for one will probably not be voting yes but I would at least like the option to vote. Members of the council need to realize that students want opportunities to vote for things important to the student body like this! Additionally, they should not allow their own bias regarding the Upass cloud their judgement when it comes to voting on the MOU.

To be fair, there was already a referendum on this in 2013 where it was overwhelmingly rejected. I’m fine with having another vote as long as if it fails again Kings Transit respects our wishes and stops trying to force this on us every few years. But there is sweet sweet $$$ to be made off the backs of students so I’m sure if it fails there will be a new referendum in 2024.

I’m glad the question will include all the facts, that it is mandatory and it will cost $180/year. If including the facts of the proposal in the question makes people view it negatively, maybe the problem is it was a bad idea to begin with!