Students vote yes to restructuring the UVSS board
The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) Semi Annual General Meeting (SAGM) was held on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 at 2:30 p.m. Like the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the fall, the meeting was held online via Zoom and, again, ran almost four and a half hours.
After ample debate, two motions on the agenda were passed and one was postponed. Here’s a breakdown of what happened and what changes have been implemented.
Students vote yes to restructuring UVSS board, again
At the last UVSS annual general meeting (AGM) on Oct. 28, engineering and computer science student Abdul Abuelazm introduced a surprise motion that proposed changing UVSS bylaws to replace the current 11 director-at-large (DaL) roles with two, and create nine director roles that would be elected by and represent students in each undergraduate faculty at UVic.
While the motion passed at the AGM with 83 per cent voting in favour, it was later deemed invalid by the UVSS. They stated it violated the BC Societies Act because the UVSS was not given 21 days notice that the motion would be presented. According to the UVSS, the motion was illegally added to the agenda and could not be carried through.
This same motion was brought forward to the SAGM – this time with the proper notice required. Although some board members expressed their concerns about the motion, most of the debate heard from students was in favour and it ended up passing with a 88 per cent vote for.
“It’s incredibly heartwarming to see students engaging with student governance at UVic and to see them get excited and passionate about making their voices heard,” said Abuelazm to the Martlet after the SAGM. “It’s just a good feeling to see people start caring about stuff like this.”
Abuelazm added he believes this motion will make the UVSS more diverse and that he was glad to see students engaging in discussion. “Students got to provide input and affect change in their student union that’s historically been somewhat unapproachable,” he said.
This motion will come into effect for the 2023 board.
Humanities Professional Development Union motion postponed
The first motion on the agenda, moved by history and environmental studies student Samuel Holland, was to create a Professional Development Union (PDU) for the Faculty of Humanities.
Currently, there are only four PDUs on campus for students in specific programs, such as the Engineering Students’ Society. This motion stated that its establishment would result in more opportunities and funding for humanities students.
Holland told the Martlet that the idea for this motion came about through outreach work they were doing last semester with course unions as a part of their position on UVic’s senate. “A lot of these course unions that I remember being really well organized either didn’t exist anymore or were just one or two people,” Holland said.
After doing some research on PDUs and talking to some of the course unions, they decided that humanities students should have the option of creating a PDU.
At the SAGM, Holland moved to postpone the motion until the next UVSS general meeting, citing the need for more discussion amongst humanities students and existing humanities course unions. This passed, and so UVic students will have the opportunity to vote for or against the establishment of a humanities PDU at the next AGM.
“Overall, the outcome [at the SAGM] was a good one,” said Holland.
Director of International Student Relations becomes a paid position
The final motion on the agenda aimed to make the Director of International Student Relations (ISR) a part-time paid Lead Director position for May 2023. The ISR position right now is paid as a DaL position with a $50 honorarium per month.
Joshua Fassnacht, the current director of ISR, was the mover of the motion and said that the hours and work he and previous ISR directors put in is similar to that of Lead Directors rather than DaLs. Both Fassnacht and the Director of Finance and Operations have said this change would not require more student fees. After some debate, the motion passed with a 91 per cent vote in favour.
Fassnacht spoke to the Martlet about how making this a paid position will help it be more attractive to international students who might have been interested in the work but couldn’t afford to put in the expected hours without proper compensation.
“I know so many students who are working two jobs if not three,” said Fassnacht in an interview with the Martlet.
“So I think that students are going to say ‘Oh, it’s paid now. I can actually get this experience and actually find fulfillment in helping people, and I’m going to get paid like a real job.’ So I think that’s going to be really great.”