Board goes in-camera over concerns with federated body
On Oct. 16, the Board of Administration (BOA) of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) met to discuss the student federation’s audit, executive spending, and issues with the Student Association of the Faculty of Arts (SAFA), among other topics.
President’s priority report
SFUO president Roméo Ahimakin began with a priority report outlining his plans for the year. He said that he wanted to focus on social media presence, town hall discussions, and on-the-ground executive outreach.
Ahimakin also discussed wanting to make SFUO services more visible to students, and having more suggestion boxes around campus.
He went on to say that the SFUO will continue advocating for international students and for lower tuition fees, as well as fighting anti-black racism.
SFUO business troubles
During the meeting, SFUO vice-president finance Rizki Rachiq said that the SFUO businesses have been having a number of human resources issues. For example, the SFUO is currently in the process of hiring a new manager for Café Alt, which currently has one manager that is splitting their time between working at the cafe and 1848.
According to Rachiq, many students employed by the SFUO have also quit their positions in favour of other jobs. This drop in employees could led to a possible closure of Café Alt next week.
Furthermore, many appliances at SFUO businesses, such as refrigerators and freezers, have been breaking down, with a great deal of food being lost in the process. Rachiq noted that this would lead to further financial hurdles.
During question period, Jordan Kent, a political science student at the U of O, asked what the SFUO is doing to combat sexual assault on campus, in the wake of allegations against a former volunteer with the Gee-Gees football team.
Ahimakin said the SFUO is trying to make more inroads with the Gee-Gees teams, and that the U of O has handled sexual assault allegations poorly in the past.
Faculty of Engineering representative Princejeet Singh Sandhu also asked why students are paying the same fees for fewer services this year. In response to this, vice-president services and communications Francesco Caruso said that due to the federation’s current financial situation, it had no choice but to proceed in the way which it did. Vice-president equity Morissa Ellis also said that despite financial issues, she was still working hard to help clubs.
An audit of the federation by Deloitte was also presented, and while there were no pressing concerns, it flagged some questionable areas of the SFUO’s work, namely journal entries of the executive’s financial transactions.
Deloitte’s representative said that in some cases it was unclear whether or not the entries were checked after the fact. She said that after talking to members of the SFUO, Deloitte determined that they had been checked, but suggested a more stringent process going forward.
A motion was then presented to the board in regards to a missing audit from SAFA for the 2015–16 academic year.
According to SFUO by-laws, in this situation federated bodies should not receive levy funding if audits are not submitted. This motion was presented to penalize 70 per cent of SAFA’s funds instead. The board moved in-camera to discuss this motion.
When the meeting resumed publicly, a motion was presented to lower the penalty to 50 per cent. Ahimakin said that he did not want to lower the penalty any more, as it could set a lenient precedent for other federated bodies.
Faculty of Arts representative Erin Chapman suggested a compromise at 60 per cent, saying that this was an extreme circumstance.
Eventually, the original motion to penalize SAFA 70 per cent of their funding for that period passed.
Several motions passed during the meeting on the SFUO’s policy manual, including for the SFUO to demonstrate greater support for campus mental health initiatives and on the U of O’s policy on preventing sexual violence (subsection 67b).
Another motion called for SFUO executives to have all travel expenses exceeding $500 approved by the board. Executive coordinator Jesse Root noted that there is already an internal SFUO policy that governs this kind of spending, though it does not require numbers to be reported to the board. He added that the executive is not required to disclose this policy to others.
Ahimakin was against this motion, saying that it would make it difficult for the executive to exercise their discretion. Kent said that as a student he was in favour of the motion, due to concerns about SFUO transparency and budgeting. The motion did not pass.
An emergency motion calling for the SFUO to oppose the U of O’s decision to cut journal subscriptions also passed.
A further motion called for the creation of a bilingualism committee, specifically the bilingualism test for SFUO executive candidates. This motion was presented in response to concerns over the level of French skills for past executives and that the test was too simple. The motion ultimately failed.
Due to time constraints, motions on a transparency committee, changes in election polling hours, and simplifying the BOA motion process were pushed to the next meeting.
The next BOA meeting will take place on Nov. 6 in SITE C0136 at 1 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.