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Notes from Council: By-election report presented, possible council remuneration discussed

"I am concerned about the culture and value of volunteerism," said UASU general manager.

“Notes from Council” is The Gateway’s ongoing series of recaps of noteworthy items from Students’ Council meetings.

At the October 18 Students’ Council meeting, the fall by-election report was presented, and a possible council remuneration was discussed.

By-election report presented, low turnout in votes

Matin Koohkan, the chief returning officer for Students’ Union, presented the results of the fall by-election to council.

Milan Regmi, the newly elected student councillor for the faculty of education and general faculties councillor representative, was the only candidate who ran in the by-election.

The Education Student Association, the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies, the Interdepartmental Science Students’ Society, and the Association des Universitaires de la Faculté Saint-Jean held their elections with the Students’ Union as well.

According to Koohkan, there was an issue that occurred during election day with students in bilingual degrees. Students in bilingual degrees were not able to access ballots, and “this issue has been occurring [throughout] the past few years.”

Koohkan said that he is bringing this to the council’s attention, as he is concerned about the issue and the possibility of it happening again.

Work is being done to resolve the issue, Koohkan said, “so that [during the main election] our bilingual students [can] vote without having issues.”

He also mentioned that the turnout for the election was 2.04 per cent, and this low turnout “follows a similar trend to the past.”

Council remuneration discussed, councillors differ in opinions

Chanpreet Singh, an engineering councillor, introduced the council remuneration report created by Marc Dumouchel, the Students’ Union (UASU) general manager. In past meetings, the remuneration has been referred to as an “honorarium.”

Dumouchel prepared the report to help determine the viability of councillors getting paid for their service. The report covers a timeline and overview of the remuneration topic and discusses potential issues or impacts that could develop.

Before opening the floor to questions, Dumouchel explained his position on the potential council remuneration.

“[It’s not that] I don’t think councillors deserve to be compensated, but I am concerned about the culture and value of volunteerism … [we don’t want it to be] sending a message that the only work worth anything is if it’s paid,” he said.

Fateh Arslan, a business councillor, defended the remuneration by mentioning the impact of academic restrictions on students who volunteer.

“I think academic restrictions are one of the core pieces as to why we struggle with engagement. Sometimes people have to choose whether they’re going to go to class, or [participate] on a board or committee,” Arslan said.

Leo Huang, an arts councillor, shared that he thinks the student body is not fully aware of what Students’ Council does, and therefore councillors should not receive remuneration until this is changed.

“If students don’t know what we’re doing, we can’t be paid … at the moment, I don’t see [this] as a good time for us to be paid yet,” Huang said.

Council only discussed the proposed remuneration, and no motion was brought forward.

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2023-24 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science. She enjoys skiing, walks in the river valley, and traveling.

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