“As the Chair of the Bylaw Committee, I’m wondering whether the continued branch of late executive reports warrants creating some sort of bylaw that would publicly shame those in the SU who deliver late.”
— Councillor Babic, on the SU executives getting their reports in on time.
Students’ Council meets every second Tuesday in Telus 134 at 6 p.m. Council meetings are open to all students. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 19, where free food will be provided for all attendees.
This week’s council meeting served up a variety of pizza, fresh fruit and cookies. So if you’re at all interested in student politics, swing by, fill your belly, and get your democracy on.
Associate Dean of Students Robin Everall gave a presentation outlining the expansion of student mental health services on campus. She spent the past year as a Provost’s Fellow compiling information and generating a report on these service structures.
Everall defined mental health as social, emotional and psychological health and wellness — a spectrum of being in the world, rather than clinical categories. She said students with different background and ages require a broad spectrum of services, and stressed the importance of providing better mental health initiatives to create better wellbeing and functioning, which directly impacts academic success.
She provided statistics that the National College Health Assessment generated in 2011, which included how 48 per cent of U of A students felt stress levels negatively impacted their academic performance. 18 per cent of students also felt socially isolated.
Instead of adhering to an “If you build it, they will come” model that offers services in one location, Everall wants to reach out to students. Her plan includes providing priority therapy services to those who have undergone abuse, situations concerning suicide and other traumatic experiences.
Campus mental health services will restructure their model in order to place six satellite psychology centres in three faculties. These centres will require eight more psychologists and five PhD psychology student interns, as well as an additional psych nurse. The psych nurses will be available at all times to talk either by phone or in-person.
Everall said this new model will make mental health services more accessible for students.
SU General Manager Mark Dumouchel and Vice-President (Operations & Finance) Andy Cheema took the floor next to give a presentation regarding the progress of SUB renovation plans.
Dumouchel began by outlining the history of the building, which was constructed in 1967 and has been renovated three times.
The goals of the current renovation project are to create a student engagement centre with better facilities for student groups. He noted that this falls in line with university objectives such as connecting communities, learning discovery and citizenship.
The renovations will respect the original design of the building by retaining its utopian style of architecture, while adding features such as a large two-storey glass atrium where the quiet room is currently located. Bookable plaza space will also be available outside the area for events and student groups.
Another important redesign element is a reconfiguration of the basement, which will feature more effectively designed student group offices, along with social and study areas. The bookstore and CJSR will both be sacrificing a small amount of space in order to make this happen.
Cheema said the project could start as soon as the end of June, with the possibility of completion by the end of 2014. The project will cost in the vicinity of $12–$13 million, with self-funding from students at $9 per term accounting for 60 per cent of the cost. The remaining 40 per cent will come from SU operating revenues.
This week’s agenda listed a question from Councillor McGinn, asking Vice-President (External) Petros Kusmu how he feels about charging students $75 for the IGNITE conference, which features a discussion on financial barriers and access to education.
“Is there a reason that a cheaper option for students is not being offered? Could there have been measurements taken to set up a fund for individuals whose finances were a barrier to having their voice heard at this conference?” McGinn asked.
In his Council report, Kusmu wrote that the summit featuring the discussion in question is not open for anyone to attend, in order to facilitate a meaningful discussion. However, following the conference, general discussion will be facilitated through townhall meetings, focus groups and surveys.
After some debate, Council approved the Nursing Undergraduate Association’s (NUA) Faculty Association Membership Fee (FAMF) proposal.
The fee would be applied to all members of the NUA, and falls at $12.50 per term for full-time students and $8.50 per term for part-time students.
Some councillors expressed concern with the NUA’s current probationary status, which was initiated after an Audit Committee investigation revealed financial mismanagement and insufficient record-keeping practices.
However, it was ultimately determined that the NUA’s presentation at the previous council meeting revealed a stronger committment to financial organization and documentation.
It was also noted that the NUA’s governance is in a unique situation among other campus faculty associations, being that most executives are currently enrolled in clinical programs located off-campus.
The remnants of chivalry still linger today, especially in the dating world.