Financial transparency, sexual violence policy, dismantling of CVUO and more
The University of Ottawa Students’ Union’s (UOSU) fall General Assembly (FGA) has faced controversy ahead of the Nov. 26 convening.
According to the agenda, members will vote on a series of motions related to UOSU’s finances, including the approval of audited financial statements and the appointment of a public accountant.
Furthermore, the adoption of a sexual violence policy has been proposed by a non-board member, calling on UOSU to take a “survivor-centred approach to sexual violence prevention on campus” and “to release a statement of solidarity with survivors,” amongst other resolutions.
Some of the more contentious propositions include motions that would prevent UOSU from “directing newly formed clubs to the Royal Bank of Canada,” and a now-rescinded motion to abolish Campus Vibez uOttawa (CVUO).
In a statement to the Fulcrum, Nicolas Michaud, representative from the faculty of arts on UOSU’s Board of Directors, said he thought proposing to eliminate CVUO would address alleged discrepancies with regard to its operations.
“My concerns for the motions were multiple. CVUO has been giving privileges to certain clubs — demonstrating clear favouritism in some cases — which brings up multiple conflict[s] of interests, as they’re the service responsible for administrating clubs.”
“There’s questionable decisions that CVUO has taken which they’ve never justified, such as banking with RBC without the Union’s approval and allowing clubs that were rejected by the clubs committee to operate like any other clubs,” he said.
Michaud mentioned the idea came to him “after multiple members of different club execs had told [him] their concerns,” and thus, “one of the parts of this motion was to ensure that clubs have elected representatives on the clubs committee that would represent one-third of it.”
However, the motion quickly received criticism from other students.
“From what I saw, the student body and other UOSU representatives at large did not like the motion itself, but understood and supported the bulk of the concerns behind it,” he added.
On Instagram, @savecvuo_ became a vocal critic of both the motion and Michaud, ultimately urging students to attend the General Assembly.
“I’d like to say, personally, the creation of that account was a surprise to me. I did not expect someone to create an account to do a campaign around a motion presented at the GA, and even less that they would target my name specifically,” remarked Michaud.
“Many people disagreed with the way the account operated despite being pro-CVUO themselves, and the way the account responded to them was unnecessarily rude. I think it’s a legitimate claim to want to keep CVUO around, but there are ways to do so that don’t involve responding rudely to students or by publically engaging in misinformation.”
Former UOSU president, Tim Gulliver, said he was disappointed by the tone of the conversation surrounding CVUO.
“What did kind of upset me was the really acrimonious nature of the entire discussion around how we can improve access to club funding and administration at the University of Ottawa. I thought the motion wasn’t very productive. It didn’t accomplish what the people who wrote the motion wanted it to accomplish,” said Gulliver.
He added, “and I think, by the same token, that the ‘savecvuo’ page was using talking points and spreading what I would characterize as misinformation about the finances of the Student Union, and I think that’s really disappointing.”
Following the controversy, Michaud said he is open to exploring alternatives to abolishing CVUO.
“At the end of the day, though, I ultimately decided that I would prefer to rescind my motion, and maybe have more formal discussions around potential reforms. It’s too early to say, but some of the actions that have been discussed preliminarily would be to use the Services committee to do consultation with the different groups who have an interest in CVUO and to see what their concerns are, and how it can serve them better as a UOSU service.”
The fall General Assembly will be held on Nov. 26 at 4 p.m. Students are welcome to register and attend either in person or virtually.