Board also discusses referendum question for WUSC program

On Sunday, Jan. 19, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) Board of Administration (BOA) met, where several executives were questioned about their absence at the Dec. 3 meeting.

Explanation of absence motion

The board saw a motion regarding just cause for absence of certain members at the Dec. 3 meeting that read: “Be it resolved, that the VP finance, president, and VP equity give the board of administration just cause for their absences at the December 3 meeting.”

An amendment to the motion was proposed by Faculty of Social Sciences representative Philippe Garcia-Duchesne to change the wording from “just cause” to “explanation of absence” to avoid confusion over the current rule requiring just cause for absence after missing two mandatory meetings. The board approved the amendment and the final motion read: “Be it resolved, that the VP finance, president, and VP equity give the board of administration an explanation for their absences at the December 3 meeting.”

Vice-president finance Rizki Rachiq explained his absence due to an infection, and Leila Moumouni-Tchouassi, vice-president equity, provided mental health issues as the reason for her absence. President Hadi Wess, who was absent to attend the Ontario general Assembly of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), explained via proxy that he missed the December meeting due to a family emergency.

The board then moved into an in-camera session, which is closed to the public, to discuss a report by the disciplinary committee.

WUSC referendum question

Faculty of Social Sciences representative Gabi Ghannoun amended the agenda to include an emergency motion referendum question, and gave his speaking rights to Siddeeq Abu Ghazaleh, a third-year student in the Telfer School of Management, and co-president of the U of O’s World University Services of Canada (WUSC) chapter.

WUSC is responsible for the Student Refugee Program, which is currently sponsoring three refugee students at the U of O through a student levy of $1.88 per semester. Abu Ghazaleh explained that WUSC is currently undergoing financial difficulties, and the referendum seeks to raise the levy from $1.88 to $3.88.

The question was presented as follows: “Do you support each undergraduate student contributing an additional two dollars per semester to the student run World University Services of Canada (WUSC) local committee so as to further support and sponsor three refugee students to resettle and attend uOttawa annually?”

After Faculty of Social Sciences representative Cori Trandafir proposed an amendment to the motion to include “an additional two dollars for a total of $3.88 per semester,” the board voted in favour of the emergency motion.

The final referendum question reads: “Do you support each undergraduate student contributing an additional two dollars per semester for a total of $3.88 to the student run World University Services of Canada (WUSC) local committee so as to further support and sponsor three refugee students to resettle and attend uOttawa annually?”

The referendum question will be included in this year’s general election, with voting taking place Feb. 7-9.

Executive updates

Moumouni-Tchouassi’s executive updates included planning for Black History Month, and events like the annual gala, an open mic night, a potluck night, and a mini documentary about black students at the university.

She also mentioned an initiative called Demand Drive, wherein postcards addressed to various departments at the U of O will be distributed to students around campus to have them write things they wish to see improve or occur through administration.

According to Moumouni-Tchouassi, “students ask a lot of the university and that often doesn’t come through,” something she hopes will improve through this initiative. The plan is for these postcards to make up a wall at the university, and later be sent out to administration. Moumouni-Tchouassi said she will begin by doing a trial of 300 cards in the month of February, and plans to create a list of all of the demands they receive to be revisited each year to measure for progress.

She then discussed committees for sexual violence prevention and mental health, separate from the president’s committee, that will take student input into account when making decisions on these issues. Moumouni-Tchouassi said there are meetings planned for both committees in the next two weeks.

Following her updates, Moumouni-Tchouassi received a question about the recent death of a student on campus, asking if any new information was known, such as the student’s faculty. Kathryn Leblanc, vice-president services and communications responded by saying, “not very much information has been released and that was an intentional decision on behalf of the university,” adding that since the BOA meeting was being live-streamed, and nothing had been confirmed by the university, it was not the right context for discussion surrounding the issue.

Leblanc then gave her updates surrounding events for Mental Health Awareness Week which was began on Jan.22 and Green Week beginning on Jan. 29, with services like the SFUO Food Bank offering free vegan lunch, and foot patrol recycling electronics.Also in her updates were the upcoming Fedtalks, an adaptation of TED talks, being led by Wess, and a Fight the Fees press conference to be held on Feb. 1. She also mentioned progress with the election rebrand, and plans for a new peer help tutoring in statistics at a subsidized price for students.

Rachiq’s updates surrounded the SFUO’s various businesses. According to Rachiq, the Agora bookstore saw a lot of profit in January, but profits are low in comparison to past years. He also mentioned that there is concern for the next five to 10 years, since most of the money that keeps the book store afloat is through the $10 student levy. Rachiq attributes this to the fact that the bookstore is off campus, making it less convenient for students. He also shared that 1848 has been doing better than last year, and that Café Alt is under new management.  

Rachiq then discussed finances and complaints from the federated body money roundtable regarding their audits. According to Rachiq, the dismissals of the last two comptroller generals affected last year’s audit, and that there will be another money roundtable in the following week.

Axel Gaga, vice-president university affairs discussed a mental health workshop in March, as well as the SFUO’s work with the Fight the Fees campaign and the CFS for a new campaign called Fund our Future.

A live-stream of the meeting can be found on the SFUO’s Facebook page.