“Notes from Council” is The Gateway’s ongoing series of recaps of noteworthy items from Students’ Council meetings.
At the Students’ Council meeting on July 12, council received a state of the union presentation and passed a motion to review the Campus Safety and Security Policy.
Marc Dumouchel, University of Alberta of Students’ Union (UASU) general manager, gave a state of the union presentation to update council on the return to campus in fall, Myer Horowitz Theatre renovations, the UASU’s digital platforms, and the Students’ Union Building (SUB) Master Plan.
The UASU’s financial situation for the past two years was described as “strong” by Dumouchel, referring to the wage and rent subsidies obtained by the UASU from the government during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Overall, over the course of the pandemic we’re ahead [of the expected budget],” Dumouchel said. “We’re a little concerned because we have to get back to where we were, [but] we’re really hopeful that we will.”
Notable construction updates included the addition of gender-neutral washrooms on the main floor of the SUB and the Myer Horowitz Theatre. Additionally, solar panels totalling 200 kilowatts of generation power will be installed on top of the theatre by early 2023.
New renovations to the Myer Horowitz Theatre are intended to reduce operating costs, the turnaround time of events, increase non-student revenue, and to attract better performances.
As part of the effort to reboot student life, Dumouchel announced the intention to once again break the world record for the largest dodgeball game. The goal will be to beat the current record of 6,084 people.
Dumouchel also announced the intention of further development of UASU Perks, a new UASU website for the Fall semester, and the reboot of SUTV. SUTV, a network of digital screens, generates revenue as an advertising medium by allowing clients to purchase digital signage that is displayed primarily across North Campus.
Dumouchel introduced the SUB Master Plan, a 15 to 20 year strategic plan for SUB. The plan will improve aspects of the building such as sustainability, inclusivity, and accessibility.
“We can make SUB much better and we have to, as the economic engine, as the backbone of our organization … we need to keep our building competitive,” Dumouchel said.
Following the presentation, Simran Dhillion, a science councillor, asked how accessibility will be improved around construction sites on campus.
“In wintertime last year, we had that ramp [at the north entrance of SUB] and we didn’t salt it in time, [causing] a lot of slipping and falling,” Dhillon said.
Dumouchel answered that the current target date to reopen the north entrance is September 20 and that it “hopefully won’t be the same problem this year.”
During question period, Levi Flaman, a business councillor, asked if Room at the Top (RATT) will continue to be primarily a bookable space for student groups to avoid competing with Dewey’s as a second campus bar.
Julia Villoso, UASU vice-president (operations and finance), clarified that RATT has been a bookable space because it makes financial sense not to have the competition between the two bars.
RATT is only open as a bar on Friday, which is a day that has enough demand to support it, according to Dumouchel.
“We actually saw that by closing RATT, and reopening it on Fridays, Dewey’s made more money after COVID-19 than before,” Villoso said. “As of right now, I’m pretty sure we’re still sticking to that model and seeing how that goes.”
After the presentation, Villoso motioned to ratify the changes to the Collective Agreement between the UASU and Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1368, a postponed motion from the previous Students’ Council meeting.
The motion passed unanimously.
Council discuss review of Campus Safety and Security Policy
Chanpreet Singh, an engineering councillor, motioned to direct the Policy Committee to propose new clauses for Second Principles 13 and 16 of the Campus Safety and Security Policy to Students’ Council by September 30, 2022. These new clauses would be formed after consultation with the International Students’ Association (ISA), Indigenous Students’ Union (ISU), and other stakeholders.
“The goal of this motion is solemnly to send both these resolutions — which I found out to be the main cause of the conflict that we have — for more consultation, and maybe to find a middle ground [between stakeholders],” Singh said.
Levi Flaman, a business councillor, successfully moved to amend the motion to direct the Policy Committee to propose a new Campus Safety and Security Policy rather than just the two resolutions.
“People I talked to feel [that] the policy needs to be reviewed and rewritten, or rescinded entirely, not just [changing or removing] a couple of the resolutions,” Flaman said.
Flaman elaborated that the policies should be made less specific.
“We should be striving to enact policies that are broad brushed, nonspecific, and purposely vague,” Flaman said. “The Campus Safety and Security Policy, on the other hand, goes down into very specific groups, which should be kept out of the policy itself.”
Lionel Liu, a kinesiology, sport, and recreation councillor, commented that further consultation is needed.
“I genuinely feel that it is indeed necessary that we go back to the students again to see what we could do,” Liu said. “[We should] listen to more students and student groups to hear about what they want to make campus safer.”
Ibukun Ojo, a nursing councillor, then successfully moved to make another amendment to the motion. The motion updated to direct the Policy Committee to review the Campus Safety and Security Policy to Students’ Council and consult with ISA, ISU, other stakeholder groups, and students about it by November 30. Thereafter, if deemed necessary after consultation, the policy will be revised and presented to Students’ Council by December 30.
The amended motion passed unanimously.