Despite the four-hour-long slog that was the UVSS Board of Directors meeting two weeks ago, I headed back to Vertigo on Jan. 23 to report on what was hip and happening with our student representatives.
We didn’t get a presentation from the UVic Free Speech Club — scheduled for this week but postponed until the next board meeting after a time mix-up — but instead witnessed a tense debate around the merits of allowing a third-party company to host parties on campus, as well as a pleasantly quick discussion around renaming a residence building.
Board members fight for their right to party (or not)
One of the first presentations was from BluePrint, an events company based out of Western Canada that hosts electronic music concerts for universities and the greater public. BluePrint, who run Vancouver’s popular electronic music festival Contact, were propositioning the board to formalize a relationship that would see a concert held on campus before April 1, the end of the current board’s term.
The motion read that the UVSS would “support the initiative” — it was not to formally decide on what concert would be hosted when, but more a statement of intent between the UVSS and BluePrint. An amendment to the motion, added quickly by Kevin Tupper, director of finance and operations, stated that the UVSS would only spend up to a maximum of $5 000 from its events budget.
Also attending the presentation were members of the Commerce Students’ Society (CSS), who first approached BluePrint about hosting a concert. The CSS have committed to donating a sum of around $20 000 to the event.
Some board members and gallery participants mused on whether or not the money could be better spent elsewhere, like the UVSS Food Bank and Free Store, but Tupper made it clear that the money up for debate had been explicitly budgeted for UVSS events.
Alexis Masur, UVic Pride board rep, suggested that an event could be held for Black History Month in February, but their proposal was not discussed further.
Masur and Director-at-Large Michelle Brown pushed the BluePrint representatives on accessibility, asking whether ticket prices were affordable for students already struggling to afford to go to university.
Brown and Masur also questioned the merits of a concert, asking whether or not students really needed one and if already marginalized students were going to feel unsafe.
“I’m not objecting to the idea that it looks very appealing,” said Masur. “But is this going to be safe?”
Finally, several advocacy group representatives asked why some members of the board already knew of the proposal, and they didn’t. Brown called the process “shady,” while Emma Kinakin, UVSS director of student affairs, rued the complicated nature of early talks and clarified that since so many groups were involved in planning the event, talks had been scattered.
Adam Sorensen, CSS chair, apologized to advocacy reps for not including them in talks earlier.
BluePrint, the CSS, and select members of the board assured those who were concerned that since the motion was solely a formalizing of intent, more conclusive, and inclusive consultations would still be held. The inclusion of consultations was amended to the motion, though a proposal from Jordan Quitzau, UVSS director of events, to specify “email consultations” in the wording was quickly shot down.
Eventually, the motion passed unanimously — though Brown, Masur, and Lucy Hagos, Students of Colour Collective board rep, vocalized the dependence of their support on thorough and respectful consultations.
UVSS comes up Trutch
Discussion around BluePrint’s proposal had turned bitter, taking up the better part of an hour and a half. The next motion was much simpler, however.
Proposed by Lisa Schnitzler, a Community Leader with UVic Residence Services and resident of Joseph Trutch Hall, the motion called for the renaming of said building. Trutch, a land surveyor in the 1800s, has been a figure of controversy for many years at UVic — this is the third time since the 1990s that students have motioned to rename the building.
The motion called him a “monumental figure in furthering colonialism in Victoria” and stated that Trutch did not recognize any First Nations rights to lands, often refusing to negotiate with First Nations at all.
The motion said that “Trutch’s values stood for racism and colonialism,” and requested an official declaration of support from the UVSS for a student petition requesting a name change for the building.
The only board member to speak on the motion was Quitzau, who said he did not often support renaming buildings. A quick Google search of who Trutch was and what he stood for, however, convinced Quitzau otherwise.
The UVSS voted unanimously to support the petition.
That’s all, folks
After that, the UVSS breezed through some minor motions, and spoke briefly on the need to properly educate students on the importance of tying UVSS fees to the rate of inflation in Canada — a question that will be posed to students in the coming student election.
With UVSS election season just around the corner — nominations begin on Jan. 30 — meetings may only get more intense and complicated from now until March.