AMS Council October 21st Meeting Update
Thank you’s: Before I start, I truly think a big thank you is in order for our VP Marketing, Johnny Lee and the whole team for creating such an amazing website. As someone who has no knowledge of computers beyond word processing and excel (how I love Excel!), I am constantly amazed at what Johnny (& co.) have accomplished.
And so we begin with a meeting full of the three C’s: Committee Reform, CASA, and the Campus Plan
Props to new haircuts: Geoff, Johannes, Jeremy
Food: Sandwiches and cheesecake, and later pizza
And the award to best dressed goes to: Mitch’s cat t-shirt with a very close second by Crystal’s silk skirt
It’s Time to Thrive
Thrive Week is coordinated by the Office of the Vice President, Students and the Department of Health, Safety and Environment. It is a week that celebrates wellness and health and encompasses a series of free events for UBC Students, Staff and Faculty. Council had the benefit of having a presenter come in and discuss the various events, such as a breakfast with Professor Toope, happening during the week of November 2-6th. For more information, I would encourage all Sauder students to visit the Thrive Week website.
Let’s be SAS-sy
Presentation by Anthony Smith, AMS representative to the SAS working Group
The Sustainability Academic Strategy is the result of a working group composed of students, faculty and external representatives given the mandate to consult and develop a comprehensive draft strategy by the fall of 2009 regarding how to fully incorporate sustainability into UBC. This strategy would become part of UBC’s large Campus Plan. All too often, sustainability is stripped of its meaning and becomes nothing more than a buzzword, and we need to realize that the concept of sustainability is not simply changing a few things here and there, but rather it is a completely new way of looking at our society, our consumptions and the limited amount of resources we have. I was very happy to see UBC take concrete steps to ingrain the concept of sustainability into all its processes. Some highlights of the new SAS plan include:
- Teaching and Learning: The development of up to a minor in sustainability, the creation of academic sustainability teaching fellows (new staff that would be responsible for developing sustainability courses), and a certificate program where students involved in extra-curricular sustainability initiatives can have that recognized on their degree
- Research and Partnership: The development of CIRS, a sustainability hub, focus on receiving funding and grants that are due to sustainability research and changing the peer review system to allow for more interdisciplinary work
- Operations and Administration: the implementation, within the next 3-5 years, of a municipal scale micro-grid waste, water and energy project, and working with suppliers to build lifecycle-based sustainability targets and tracking systems (say what? Basically making sure we get cheap and environmentally sustainable supplies)
- Implementation: creating The University Sustainability Centre (TUSC) with a full-time Director and appropriate levels of staff and budgetary support, Enhance support for staff, faculty and community (alumni, First Nations, UNA) to engage in sustainability leadership and practice in teaching, research and campus sustainability
The Strategy is extensive and I would greatly encourage all those interested to look through the website and to check out the draft. I will be writing a story on the SAS plan for The Cavalier’s next issue.
Last Council Meeting, the AMS endorsed the SAS plan
C is for Committee Reform
Chief Tyrol of Battlestar Galactica (a.k.a. Matthew Naylor) was kind enough to visit council this Wednesday to present on Committee Reform. In brief, Committee Reform is a proposed change to completely rework how motions are made and committees are structured. In other words, committee reform will result in an operational division of power, committee chairs that would work 12 or so hours a week and a crazy amount of changes to code and to internal processes. Is this a good thing? To be honest, I have no idea (especially since code changes amount to 50+ pages and I’m not that policy obsessed…yet), but the straw-pull (a non binding vote to see what the preliminary thoughts are) Naylor asked from council to gage interest was favourable. More details will be given next week, including the code changes, and I will be posting another update then if I receive anything. I would love to get any feedback from an outside point of view regarding the proposed changes once more information is available.
Mi CASA no es su CASA
I have been discussing CASA for quite a while these past couple of updates. What is CASA? CASA is a national lobbying organization. In other words, the Canadian Association of Student Alliances, made up of certain student unions (like the AMS), lobbies the federal government with regards to issues such as post-secondary funding and childcare.
While this might sound pretty dandy, the AMS has seen a lot of problems with regards to CASA. Some include too much staff involvement, two conflicting constitutions and a whole slew of other problems. In other words, CASA is seen as unprofessional and not necessary to the AMS. At this point, I would like to mention the age old concept of ROI, or return on investment: indirectly, it seems like CASA has done some things to improve post secondary education in Canada, however, if we take a look at our fees, which are approximately $35,000 or so every year as associate members, we begin to see that the bang for our buck is not all that much.
Of course, the debate on whether or not we have fully used CASA to our advantage stands. We are as much a part of CASA as any other school, and I would like to add, probably one of its biggest players. It is unfortunate that (a) there is so much instability at CASA (b)the AMS has not taken the time to fully see ways we can work with CASA (c) CASA has not taken the time to sit down with the exec, and hash out a solution. But since it is relatively easy to leave/enter CASA, I have a feeling that there will always be a CASA debate.
And in the effort to avoid any legal ramifications due to CASA operating under two constitutions and the AMS being bound to at least some sort of contract, the AMS motion to leave council will take into affect once our 12 month period as associate members (members that essentially have no vote) is up in April. Then, for one solid year, we will not be part of CASA.
And so, here is the hefty motion in all its glory:
Whereas the AMS has been engaged in independent federal lobbying efforts, incurring costs in addition to those funds paid CASA; and
Whereas the allocation of funds towards federal lobbying represents a proportion of the overall external relations budget disproportionate with the impact that the federal government has on post secondary education; and
Whereas there are insufficient concrete returns on investment to warrant continued CASA membership, and
Whereas significant AMS concerns with the constitution under which CASA is operating, most notably the fact that such a constitution was rejected by Industry Canada, have not been rectified in a timely manner; and
Whereas AMS efforts to reform CASA governance structures, or embark upon a process that would lead to the recommendation of such reforms, have not been treated as a priority by CASA; and
Whereas CASA’s efforts to develop campus-centered campaigns to complement more conventional lobbying efforts have been either insubstantial, ineffective or non-existent; and
Whereas AMS ability to steer the organization is incongruent with the AMS contribution to the organization; and
Whereas CASA institutional rules prevent the GSS from becoming a CASA member; and
Whereas the voting structure of the organization gives a disproportionate voice to regional voting blocs and;
Whereas the Member Driven Principle continues to remain undefined on an organization wide basis, and insufficient safeguards exist to prevent situations of excessive staff control or ensure that the priorities acted upon and the policy priorities reflect the will of the membership;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia – Vancouver cease its affiliation to the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations; and
Be it further resolved that the AMS remain unaffiliated to any federal lobbying organization, for no less than one years; and
Be it further resolved that if the AMS considers affiliation with an external lobbying organization, it negotiate with CASA first.”
(There was an amendment to the motion from Tahara to change it to the intent to withdraw on April 1st: a smart move considering that the last thing we want is a lawsuit)
While essentially, this motion means we are leaving CASA, we are leaving on April 1st, and council can change that at anytime by 2/3rds. My biggest apprehensions has been the fact that (a) the motion wording itself is grossly negative (one of Natalie’s, the forestry reps concerns) (b) the motion binds next year’s council to a certain degree (c) the process has always been “how do we leave CASA” vs. “how do we improve our ROI in CASA”
I agree with Neal, one of the writers for the UBC Insiders, when he mentions the complete lack of outside student involvement with CASA. Therefore, as your AMS Rep, I would love any feedback with regards to CASA. Take a look at the website, the letter, and the CASA presentation highlighting some concerns. Then, please comment or shoot me an e-mail with your views.
Last council meeting, council voted in favor of leaving CASA as of April 1st*
*Now let’s all hope that we do not have a lawsuit in our hands
Presidential and Executive Reports
Blake was sick but don’t you fret
To a $25 Upass his sight is set
Rallying for students rights
Yanni’s off to new heights
Talking to the senior manager for HR
Hopefully our org. culture will go far
Tom got catering to talk about us
Because the AMS made such a fuss
IPF Applications are due soon
This Friday, so be like Daniel Boone
And take the initiative, get it done
And off to Tim for some fun
Campaigning against the cuts
With our postcards we’ll kick some butts
Crystal still sub-ing away
Pavani helping plan Suicide Awareness Day
Making a workshop for SLC
That’s what the execs are doing for you and me!
SENATE: Congrats to Geoff who has been elected as the UBC Senate Vice-Chair, the first student ever to be elected: WAY TO GO!!
HKIN: Oct 30 Halloween Boat Cruise
ARTS: Retreat, “Free” bzzr garden on Oct.23rd
LAW: still no building
MUSIC: found a VPX
ENGINEER: Free bzzr? NO cover? When? Parties? They sang a song but I couldn’t understand
SCIENCE: Retreat, met a bear, Oc.28 First year Halloween Dance, POITS AND SUS on OCT.30= EPIC
BoG: New powers, Bill 13, Concerns, Opinions and Thoughts
And Everything Else…
After passing countless minutes, Council finished off the meeting with a discussing on electoral reform and the UBC Campus Plan
UBC Campus Plan: Please Please Please visit www.mycampusplan.ca to have your say in the UBC Campus plan. This will be your only chance in twenty years!
Electoral Reform: (1) Should we have slates (2) Should we have paper balloting stations?
What are your opinions? Send them, comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
And a little update on what I have been up to as your AMS Rep: Mostly, I have been working hard in the External Policy Committee, working on the Anti-cuts campaign, the CASA motion and the Olympics report. I’ve been attending meetings and while I find them particularly draining (and disheartening at times), I have tried to remain un-jaded, which has been tough, and relatively hack-free (even more tough). Regardless, I am enjoying meeting all the members of council and working with them to enhance student life.
I have also had the privilege of writing in the latest issue of the Cavalier. My most recent (and only for now) article introduces the AMS to students and urges commerce students to participate in their AMS. On that note, I would like to reiterate and speak on the absolute importance of taking the time to recognize the various goings on at UBC: go to a bzzr garden not put on by your faculty, read the Cav and the Ubeyssey, check out the campus plan, read UBC blogs like the UBC Insiders and UBC Student Media, go to a senate meeting and see Geoff in action, and, last but not least, shoot me an e-mail with your opinions.
After all, UBC might very well be a big place, but it’s our big place.
Memorable Quotes (taken out of context of course):
“We don’t need CASA”-Blake
“I can intend to commit murder, but not actually commit murder”-Colin
“I’m not Bijan, I don’t represent the university”- Geoff