“Notes from Council” is The Gateway’s ongoing series of recaps of noteworthy items from Students’ Council meetings.
ARRC recommendations approved unanimously
On May 7, Students’ Council approved unanimously all recommendations set out in the Aboriginal Reconciliation and Relations Committee (ARRC) 2018-19 report.
The report laid out over 50 recommendations, ranging from smudging at meetings to creating a budget supporting Aboriginal initiatives.
ARRC began crafting the document containing the recommendations in 2017 with both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal students.
VPEX to meet with UCP
During open forum, The Gateway asked vice-president (external) Adam Brown if he had reached out or heard anything from the newly elected United Conservative Party (UCP)-led government, including recently sworn-in Minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides.
Brown said that transitions of the new executive into their roles has just begun. He added that the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), the provincial advocacy group representing 10,000 post-secondary students, is still undergoing transition as well. According to him, conversations with UCP MLAs and Nicolaides are scheduled.
“I have not had any interactions with [Nicolaides] yet,” Brown said. “However, the UCP government has reached out to CAUS to set up stakeholder meetings.”
Overall, Brown said he is “excited” to meet with the new government and see their priorities for the post-secondary system in the upcoming year.
Board of Governors representative Rowan Ley asked Brown about the UCP plan to require Alberta post-secondary institutions to comply with the Chicago principles of free speech. The UCP said these principles are the “gold standard” while others believe they are problematic.
Brown responded by saying that the Students’ Union (SU) does not have a policy on what should guide freedom of speech governance on campus.
“Students have a wide range of opinions when it comes to the concept of free speech policy,” Brown said. “[The SU] does not have a formal position on [a] specific free speech policy.”
Brown said council’s policy committee, if interested, could strike a new policy regarding what the SU would want in a freedom of speech policy.
“We do want to ensure that students have a university experience that is respectful,” Brown said. “Where there are factual and thoughtful discussions, [and] where we can learn but have our ideas challenged in an equal and non-discriminatory way.”
To livestream, or not to livestream?
Ley mentioned in his report to council that he discussed the possibility of livestreaming Board of Governors meetings with board chair Michael Phair.
According to Ley, Phair said the reason this technology has not been implemented at the board level is because the South Academic Building — where the majority of board meetings occur — would not be able to support it. He said Phair mentioned that SAB has “outdated” technology which suffers from “difficulties.”
“I do not think this is a very good excuse,” Ley said. “I am looking at ways how I myself could just make a proposal of how [livestreaming] would be set up.”
He added that other Board of Governors members are also interested in implementing livestreaming at their meetings.