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Notes from Council: OASIS, IHCC, The Landing present 2023-2024 fee proposals

Members approved an amendment to DFU conditions for the ISU and elected a council member to the DIE Board Replenishment Committee.

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

At the December 12 University of Alberta Students’ Union (UASU) Students’ Council meeting, council heard several faculty association membership fee (FAMF) and dedicated fee unit (DFU) proposals. The Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Students (OASIS) and the International House Community Council (IHCC) presented FAMF proposals. The Landing presented a DFU proposal.

To begin, council voted on which two members would receive the two available fall 2023 council scholarships. Council voted in favour of arts councillor Nathan Thiessen and science councillor Noor Abdelwahab to receive the scholarships.

OASIS proposes fee increase from $3 to $5 for fall and winter semesters

OASIS presented on their FAMF proposal, which will be running in the 2024 UASU election. They plan to raise their fee from the current $3 to $5, per fall and winter semester.

Vice-president (finance) Prishna Sweeney said this increase is to “combat inflation and lack of funding from the university.” The fee will be mandatory for all faculty of arts students. As well, it will be paid both semesters and by both full and part-time students. Additionally, Sweeney said OASIS is discussing a formal refund process. 

Hussain Alhussainy, OASIS president, said their goal is to help faculty of arts students achieve a “high level of satisfaction, enjoyment, and success throughout their time” at the U of A. 

The fee would support events such as their Speakers Series and annual Arts Gala. As well as services like free printing, the arts mentorship program, discount cards, and grants. Additionally, they intend to use the FAMF to hire more staff.

Levi Flaman, UASU vice-president (finance), asked for the reason behind the $13,000 surplus shown in the budget report for the previous year. OASIS gains revenue through their undergraduate research journal, Crossings, pronoun pins, locker rentals, and event tickets.

Firstly, Alhussainy, said this surplus was due in-part to the COVID-19 pandemic impacting what events OASIS could host. Secondly, he said this surplus operates as an emergency fund.

IHCC proposes $50 FAMF renewal for International House residents

Next, the IHCC presented their FAMF. The IHCC is a cooperative of residents working to build a community within International House. 

Currently, the IHCC fee is $50. Residents of International House pay this fee at the beginning of the academic year. IHCC is running the FAMF to renew this fee for September 2024 to September 2028.

A proxy for Aiman Saif, an engineering councillor, asked if any considerations were made for International House residents who cannot afford the fee.

Liam Richardson, a co-facilitator of the IHCC, said they decided to keep the fee at $50, rather than raise it, due to financial issues faced by international students. Andy Pham, a IHCC co-facilitator, added that students can contact resident services and ask for a refund.

Next, Flaman expressed concerns about the amount of revenue being carried over each year. Flaman mentioned how the IHCC’s expected revenue for 2023-2024 includes a 55 per cent surplus from previous years.

Richardson agreed that the surplus is “fairly excessive.” However, he said that in previous years, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in IHCC hosting fewer in-person events. As well, this year they have been unable to access their bank account. This has prevented them from hosting as many events as they would like to.

Chris Beasely, vice-president (external), expressed concern about the IHCC’s “financial and administrative capacity” to handle the amount of revenue they take in each year.

Pham said they are currently working on transferring signing authority to the 2023-2024 co-facilitators team. Additionally, Pham said there will be a “continuation of oversight” for 2024-2025, as several of the current co-facilitator team will remain as residents. 

The Landing proposes DFU increase from $1.85 to $3.75

Following the IHCC presentation, The Landing presented their DFU proposal. The Landing is a support service for 2SLGBTQ+ students, and their friends and families. 

The Landing proposed an increase to their fee from $1.85 per semester to $3.75 per semester. This fee would be applicable to full and part-time students on North Campus for five years, beginning September 2024. If the referendum passes, The Landing will become independent from the UASU. The fee would supply the bulk of their funding. 

With this increased fee, The Landing intends to hire additional staff, acquire a larger space, improve outreach and awareness, and create more events and education opportunities.

According to Emily Lukacs, Student Coordinator at The Landing, their guiding values are visibility, support, equity, and community. The Landing offers extensive services, programs, workshops, and presentations, Lukacs said.

Students raise safety concerns, address UASU response to Israeli-Palestine violence

During open forum, students brought up concerns about the UASU’s response to the violence in Israel and Palestine. 

Prometheus Voaklander called the UASU to adopt several policies to “live up to their commitment to truth and reconciliation.” These include joining the Assembly of First Nations in calling upon the Government of Canada for a permanent ceasefire in Palestine and repudiating Zionism as a colonial ideology. As well, he called for the UASU to call upon the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) to advocate to the provincial and federal governments.

Later, Voaklander brought up safety concerns surrounding accusations being made against students like himself.

“When we talk about people just blindly accusing us of being affiliated with Hamas, they’re calling us terrorists. That is an extremely specific form of violence because Hamas is a listed terrorist entity.”

Matin Koohkan said students should keep in mind “the limit of the power that the [UASU] also holds when it comes to international affairs.”

“I think the [UASU] has done a job of ensuring that every student — Muslim, Jewish, Israeli, [and] Palestinian — is represented,” Koohkan said. 

Council approves questions for ISU, nominates council member to DIE Board Replenishment Committee

Jillian Aisenstat, Faculté Saint-Jean councillor, proposed an amendment to the DFU conditions for the Indigenous Students’ Union (ISU). Aisenstat proposed that members of the ISU who have not opted out of the fee be guaranteed access to the ISU lounge during operating hours.

Michael Griffiths, vice-president (student life), clarified that when the ISU lounge is open, an executive member has to be there. He asked if the amendment reflects the limitations of this. 

Flaman said that the ISU is able to dictate their own office hours. 

“Guaranteeing access during operating hours doesn’t necessarily infringe upon their operations, when they themselves can dictate what their operating hours are going to be,” Flaman said.

The amendment was approved.

Next, council appointed Thiessen to the Discipline, Interpretation, and Enforcement (DIE) Board Replenishment Committee. 

Council then moved into a closed session to discuss issues brought up in open forum.

Note: Students who did not provide their last names during open forum were not included.

Dylana Twittey

Dylana Twittey is the 2024-25 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 News Editor. She is a second-year student studying history. In her free time, she enjoys watching 90s Law and Order, cooking, and rereading her favourite books for the fifth time.

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