Transportation and affordable food a top priority for BUSU executives at the AGM

On Thursday, Oct. 9, BUSU held its first annual general meeting of the year. The purpose of the meeting is for students to gather with BUSU executives to discuss the business of the corporation and if quorum is met, by-laws can be brought up for discussion. The meeting did not meet quorum, therefore turning into an information session for executives to answer any and all questions the audience had, as well as to go through their platform and discuss what they have accomplished.

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To meet quorum, 2 per cent of the student body must attend, which equates to 314 students out of an approximate 18,000. Despite heightened promotional efforts this year, 26 students were in attendance, which is only 0.14 per cent of the student population. Last year’s AGM on Jan. 15 unfortunately saw the same number of attendees without as much promotion as the Oct. 9 meeting.

This year, Brock University Students’ Union’s (BUSU) promotion of the AGM included creating a Facebook event page for the meeting, conducting an AGM live-chat a week prior and being active on Twitter. Though there was a large banner outside of the BUSU office, a suggestion was made to have posters throughout campus. President Roland Erman responded that part of his goals are to promote the AGM through presentations in first-year classrooms and residence meetings, as these posters can be easily lost among the many that are already on the campus promotions boards.

“Three to four years ago, there was no promotion or awareness of the AGM at all outside of the executives,” said Erman. “We had a pretty good response with a lot of different questions in that live chat room. I’m open to any feedback, and I do appreciate it.”

In regard to his platform, Erman has so far completed program reviews on all 700 programs on campus, including the recommendations that will be made to Senate. He discussed the progress of a new students’ union building at the meeting, which has seen no work in the last four years since it was reviewed. Having been in several meetings about the new students’ union to be built on Weather Station Field, he has decided to move forward with consultations with other departments on campus to discuss what they would like to see with this new building. Erman’s other areas of work include representing students on the new presidential hiring committee in November (as Brock University President Jack Lightstone’s term ends in April 2016), BUSAC mentorship, municipal lobby week, CASA national advocacy campaign and increasing working relationships around Brock.

Vice-president of External Affairs Drew Ursacki also presented his platform with an emphasis on open education resources, seamless and Go-transit, and continuing CASA committee work. Ursacki explained that open education resources, which are essentially free online textbooks, are mostly going through OUSA and its Executive Director Sean Madden, with multiple MPPs on board. Part of his work with CASA includes making sure that it is properly functioning and meeting the needs of restructured governance and policy structure.

“I do not think that CASA is a perfect organization,” said Ursacki, “which is why it is part of my platform. There are areas that need to be fixed and policies that need to be corrected before going forward. Right now it’s a turnover and remodelling period. I’m working towards accomplishing what I was elected for.”

Paul Dermody, Vice-president of Student Services, recognized that transportation has been a hot point among the executive’s platform points, presently making some progress with flat fare cabs that he is continuing to push forward. Mental health and wellness support is also on his agenda, with additional programming that will be available to students. A lighter ecological footprint and go-green initiatives have already been put in place with the student car share program and recycling containers in Isaac’s that are eco-friendly. Since the addition of the student life fee, the student hub across from the BUSU office has taken effect, with programming for the Zone, recreational services and a long-term project for a new fitness center are in the works.

According to Vice-president of Finance and Administration Kyle Rose, student financial literacy and awareness includes promotion of the services that Brock offers and how to use them, through the blog and online budget that will be accessible through the BUSU website. Touching on transportation efforts, Rose’s “Ride with Me” campaign had councillors, mayoral candidates and Lightstone ride the bus and listen to students’ concerns. Affordable food in the community and on campus is also 100 per cent a priority of Rose’s, having established connections with businesses that offer between 10 and 20 per cent discounts for students, as well as the possibility of food vouchers and working with FedUp as much as they can.

Another AGM will be held next semester, providing students another opportunity to involve themselves in with the happenings within student governance. The possibility of a new location other than Pond Inlet was added to the executive’s to-do list as well as continued and increased promotion.

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