The Students’ Representative Council (SRC) is the independent organizational body that represents the students of Acadia. More than 50 years old, the SRC provides representation and communication for students at Acadia and manages the ASU. There are many positions involved in the SRC, even some that need feeling! Attendance at the meeting this week was the executive, made up of the President, VP Academic and External, VP Finance, VP Events and Promotions and VP Student Life (Robbie Holmes). Also in attendance were the Faculty Senators, the Diversity and Inclusion Representative, and Chairperson, who ran the meeting
This week’s meeting started with a land acknowledgment of the Mi’kmaq land that Acadia University occupies, as well as reading the SRC’s statement of autonomy. All members of the SRC were in attendance, aside from the Diversity and Inclusion rep (absence not explained). The agenda and minutes of the meeting were passed, and the meeting began. Covered in today’s meeting was the Career Services Center report (as discussed in last week’s meeting) as well as a small update on the By-Election and an important discussion in the SRC’s role in the Fishery conflict happening in Nova Scotia.
Career Services Center Research Presentation
The presentation, led by Matthew Rios, Vice President of the Acadia Alumni Association, and Quincy Cochrane, a third-year business student at Acadia, discussed their findings after a summer research project looking into the effectiveness of Acadia’s current (non-existent) Career Services Center. Interestingly, Rios is a 2014 Acadia graduate and served on the SRC for 5 years, spending his last two years as President. Rios explained how the Alumni Association had identified a need to support students in a very important transitionary period; life after Acadia. They want to enhance the career services offices university offers. In his research, Cochrane interviewed people from many universities in both the Maritimes and other places in Canada. He identified the key components of career services – things such as skill development, employers, staffing, etc. Rios went on to explain that, “for a career service to operate, there needs to be work done in all of these buckets. If all of us were to think right now of the work being done in any of these buckets, the answer would be nothing”. The duo gave three steps they would like to see Acadia’s career services move toward catching up, competitive advantage, and then cutting edge. Rios explained that he is excited about the prospect of Acadia students graduating with not only a degree but also “competencies” that will make students attractive to employers. This includes skills such as the ability to highlight one’s strengths, communicate effectively or speak articulately. The Alumni Association, as Rios explained, is considering supporting this project with an annual contribution of 50, 000 dollars. He went on to explain that the University claimed it is not currently in a position to make significant monetary contributions but said it could commit to funding the full-time employment that this service will create, as well as providing program funding and promotional support. During the following discussion period, Robbie Holmes, VP Student Life, stressed that “even though we are putting student dollars into this program, the fact of the matter is that students are going to get a lot of money out of it”. After the speakers left, the council had a short discussion about their plans moving forward and agreed to continue the conversation on with the project.
Chairperson Molly Anderson explained with disappointment that most positions on council are still open and have not been applied for. Holmes suggested that perhaps, this is because deadlines for applications were not posted to students. Nevertheless, these positions remain open, and additional information on council positions and directions on how to apply can be found on the ASU’s Instagram page @acadiastudents.
Regarding the conflict in the fisheries in Nova Scotia, the SRC is thinking about giving students resources to take action in support of Indigenous peoples. Vice President Holmes agreed that addressing this injustice is important as they are a council with a platform and an influence. He strongly believes that the council should release a statement condemning the unnecessary violence and discrimination that is happening in Digby while also offering ways to support Indigenous communities, lists of politicians to speak to and general support for Indigenous peoples here at Acadia. Other members agreed and added that the focus should be fighting the violence and racism and supporting those affected at Acadia while staying away from the “political aspect”. Lara Hartman, Faculty of Arts Senator, who is a First Nation’s person from British Columbia, shared her view. She, unlike other members of the council who spoke previously, felt it was important to “pick a side” rather than to remain impartial, as remaining impartial was, in her perspective, “picking a side”. She also mentioned that Zabrina Whitman, Indigenous Affairs Advisor of the University should be consulted before the council decides how to proceed with the matter. Hartman said that she knows herself, and likely others, are definitely feeling the impacts of this crisis. This motion to release a statement was passed and will be directed by the executive.
President Brendan MacNeil finished the meeting by summarizing his meeting with the Board of Governors explaining that he left the board with three main priorities: university affordability, Open Educational Resources (things like online textbooks that make getting course material more affordable), and health services accessibility on campus.