Brandon University Students’ Union Meeting, December 12th

Students’ Union building entrance. (Ashlyn Pearce/The Quill)

On Monday, December 12th, 2016, your Friendly Neighbourhood BUSU Council had their final meeting for the Fall term. In attendance were President Nick Brown, Vice-President Internal Jill Creasor, Science Director Trevor Poole, International Director Lisa Mizan, Health Studies Director Meagan Stade, Education Director Elizabeth Davidson, Grad Studies Director Mark Klapheke, Office Manager Corey Norton, and General Manager Nataly Ore, with Residence Director Kristin Smart joining via call-in until her arrival shortly after the meeting began. Sending regrets were Arts Director Laura Davidson, Indigenous Director Sheree Blacksmith, (Former) Women’s Director Demeter VanVliet Vasius, and Accessibility Director Whitney Hodgins.

The meeting began withthe Executive and Council members giving their reports on their activities over the previous two weeks. Brown reported that much of his time was spent looking into BUSU policies and by-laws, as well as other universities’ students’ unions policies and by-laws for a pro-choice stance. Creasor has been focusing largely on getting ready for Snowientation the first week back to class. The Directors all reported that they were holding their office hours regularly, and preparing for Fall term finals and giving support for their constituents as needed. Stade added that she attended the Mental Health First Aid course hosted by the Health Studies faculty, which was “heavy (material content), but beneficial.”

The next item on the agenda was discussion about Snowientation, the Winter term orientation week. On Wednesday, January 4th there will be another Club Day in the Mingling Area from 10:00am to 3:00pm, Thursday, January 5th will see Trivia Night in SUDS from 7:00pm to 10:00pm with free nachos for participants, and on Friday, January 6th the Snowientation Social will take place in SUDS – which will also be celebrating its 30th birthday! In honour of the occasion, SUDS will be offering 50% off menu price on food on Friday. The social in the evening is admissible to ages 18+, going from 10:00pm to 2:00am with a $5 cover charge. The following week, Snowientation continues on Monday, January 9th with Services Day from 10:00am to 3:00pm in the Mingling Area and Tuesday, January 10th with free pizza at 12:40pm in the Mingling Area and Karaoke Night at SUDS from 7:00pm to 10:00pm.

At 5:25 pm BUSU motioned to go into caucus – a brief recess from the meeting for unrecorded discussion. They promptly, without motion, asked the Quill to remove themselves from the meeting in order to discuss the matter in closed session. The point of this closed session meeting was to discuss a matter that was presented in open session. The recess was proposed for a maximum of 10 minutes, to be ended at 5:35pm. The Quill was invited back in at 5:38pm, exceeding their maximum allotted time by three minutes. The unwillingness of BUSU to speak openly about a matter that they brought up without qualm in an AGM setting, and the lack of transparency since then, creates an ‘us vs. them’ situation, which is particularly troubling when one remembers that BUSU is meant to be representing the best interests of the campus as a whole.

The majority of the meeting was consumed by discussion of the pro-choice stance that BUSU agreed to take at their November 28th, 2016 meeting, as was voted on by the student body at the AGM on November 15th, 2016. After spending two weeks on researching official pro-choice stances by other student unions in Canada, and their affect on clubs, Brown (chair of the meeting) presented three options he feels BUSU could possibly take:

1. A full pro-choice policy, and by-laws stating clubs cannot have a mandate or actions that are against the union stance, as enacted by Ryerson Students’ Union.

2. No clubs at all. Other students’ unions in Canada, including the University of Manitoba, do not have union-endorsed clubs.

3. Course Unions. No more recognized social groups, only groups that are associated with a degree stream are recognized. This policy was also enacted by Ryerson. For Brandon University, it means that only clubs such as the Anthro Society or the Bio Club, which are academic in nature, would be recognized and funded by the student union. Current clubs that would not be recognized include the largest club currently on campus, BUGA, as well as smaller groups like VCF and BUSL.

BUSU has not yet made a decision about which of the three options they are likely to adopt, or if they will attempt to find another solution.

The Quill was dismissed from the BUSU meeting at 6:15pm, after which the BUSU Council held a closed-session meeting about the Crash the Courtyard numbers. The first meeting of the Winter Term was scheduled to held on January 9th at 6:00pm in the CLC Boardroom.

Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 16, January 4, 2017.