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The fall General Assembly is set for Nov. 7. Photo: Matt Gergyek/Fulcrum

Motion to support on-campus rally against cuts to OSAP, SCI also passes 

The Board of Directors (BOD) of the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) met on Thursday night, where they set the agenda for the fall General Assembly (GA) and passed a motion to support an upcoming on-campus rally against cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the introduction of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI).

Inside the agenda for the fall General Assembly

The BOD approved the agenda for the upcoming GA set to take place on Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of the University Centre.

According to the agenda, the GA will kick off with an executive question period followed by the ratification of both the UOSU constitution and the BOD members first elected in April of this year. The GA will then see the appointment of a currently unnamed public accountant for the 2019-20 fiscal year, followed by the ratification of amendments to the UOSU constitution. 

The meeting will finish off with three motions brought by Tim Gulliver, a second-year political science student. 

The first focuses on the climate crisis and environmental justice, asking the UOSU to declare a climate emergency while supporting fossil fuel divestments and opposing any future investments in companies with unsustainable practices. 

The motion also asks the UOSU to call on the university administration to issue an update on divestment from fossil fuel companies. The U of O Board of Governors said it would commit to fossil fuel divestment in April 2016 but it’s unclear where those investments now stand.

The second motion centres on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, asking the UOSU to recognize that “the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada constitutes an ongoing cultural genocide.”

The motion asks the UOSU equity commissioner to bring forth a policy to the BOD sometime next semester focusing on reconciliation and the decolonization of the UOSU and U of O operations. It also calls on the UOSU to include land acknowledgements on all of their communications and promotions, excluding posts to Facebook and Instagram. 

The third motion focuses on the provincial government’s recent changes to the post-secondary education system, including cuts to OSAP and the implementation of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI). 

The motion asks the UOSU to oppose and condemn the SCI, cuts to OSAP, and tuition fee hikes. It also calls on the executive and the BOD to launch a lobbying campaign next semester.

The motion asks that the UOSU advocacy commissioner meets with the university administration “to discuss potential ways to alleviate the financial burden of these cuts on student services, low-income students, and on international students.”

Support for rally against cuts to OSAP, SCI

The UOSU passed a motion to support an upcoming rally against the provincial government’s cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) and the implementation of the Student Choice Initiative (SCI). 

The rally is set to take place on Oct. 25 on Tabaret Lawn and is being organized by the UOSU, the Graduate Students’ Association of the University of Ottawa, the Association of Professors of the University of Ottawa, the Association of Part-Time Professors of the University of Ottawa, CUPE 2626 (which represents teaching and research assistants) and the Franco-Ontarian Students’ Association. 

The Student Choice Initiative was introduced at the start of this semester and allows students to opt-out of previously mandatory fees they paid with tuition. At the U of O, those fees are used to fund service centres, clubs, 101 Week, financial aid, the legal aid clinic and student media. 

The Ford government also cut $600-million in funding to the OSAP, leading to the slashing of the free tuition grant for low-income students and decreases in the amount of funding some students receive. Other students can no longer receive grants or loans through the program.

The rally also takes aim at the Ford government’s decision to stop the minimum wage increase from $14 to $15, which was set to kick in this year.

“Students and workers are sending a clear message opposing Doug Ford’s harmful policies,” the description of the Facebook event reads

Pre-Panda Game tailgate party reimbursements 

The BOD approved a motion to reimburse the union’s general manager around $4,300 for the food they bought for the UOSU’s pre-Panda Game tailgate party on Saturday morning. Student life commissioner Jason Seguya said a “rotation of roughly 600-700 students” attended the party held in the parking lot of the Sandy Hill Arena.

The UOSU offered to organize a tailgate with the special events permit for the Panda Game on the line. Chartwells, a sponsor of the event, will be covering the food bill, according to the university.

“The City of Ottawa approached both Carleton and the University of Ottawa to bring up a few concerns with Russell (Avenue),” Seguya told the Fulcrum last week. “Russell (Avenue) uses a lot of city resources, from the police to emergency services, but not only that it has become a huge burden for the Sandy Hill community.”

Voting for the UOSU’s fall byelection runs from Nov. 6-8, with a number of seats on the BOD and the equity commissioner position up for grabs.

Editor’s Note (16/10/19, 12:40 p.m.): A previous version of this article said the university will be covering the food bill for the Panda Game tailgate party. In fact, the bill is being covered by Chartwells, a sponsor of the event. The previous version of this article also quoted the UOSU saying they were mandated by the university to organize the tailgate. According to the university, they offered to do so. The Fulcrum regrets these errors.