The Annual General Meeting held by the Brock University Students’ Union occurred this past Monday. Too few students were in attendance to reach quorum for voting, so the executives provided updates on their initiatives as an information session.
In terms of all-in initiatives, which are projects BUSU works on as a whole, BUSU President Aidan Hibma cited eight projects past, current and present: O-Week, Homecoming, BUSU voter turnout, municipal voter turnout, the student engagement levy referendum, the Student Justice Centre referendum to occur in the Winter term, the Food First program food bank and the BUSU strategic plan.
Hibma discussed what he called a stretch initiative: large-scale alterations of the Student Alumni Centre. Hibma said he did not believe the centre currently filled the role a student centre should, and highlighted ideas to potentially introduce a multi-faith prayer room, expanding General Brock into the building, bringing the pharmacy to a more central location, introducing new collaborative study space and creating space for clubs.
Additionally, he introduced high priority goals for the year, initiatives that multiple executives would work on but not the entire team. These included: expanding benefits under the Health and Dental Plan and evaluating alternative providers under a request for proposal, expanding the Drive Home program beyond exam hours to coincide with extended library hours and provide students a safe option to get home at late hours, extending the hours to The Zone Fitness Centre in Walker Complex, evaluating campus food providers under a request for proposal, expanding the Zone Fitness Centre through last years referendum which passed, and classroom modernization such as providing necessary electrical outlets. Vice President, External Affairs Peter Henen added that extending the Zone hours had already seen progress, with one extra hour added on Saturday nights.
The president continued to discuss his platform point progress and projects for the year. These projects included increasing water bottle refill stations on campus, which has already led to the introduction of such stations on several library floors; introducing Bystander training for staff to help prevent sexual violence on campus; no-charge parking options, which was already implemented during the Spring and Summer terms as well as during evenings; increased elder support for Indigenous students on campus; a grad send-off, which is a working title for an initiative aiming to bring an anatomy table to Brock; introducing a new healthy food vendor on campus; increasing the number of undergraduate seats on the Board of Trustees; developing a food ordering solution on campus; bringing more fitness equipment to the Hamilton campus; introducing sleeping pods and microwaves to the Hamilton and downtown campuses; and working with the university to do research into bringing a new coffee vendor to campus.
Bilal Khan, the Vice President, Finance and Administration presented next, informing attendees of his plans to: improve transit and extend hours to align with library and gym hours, subsidizing Spring/Summer bus passes for students, further extending the library hours, making syllabi available online, subsidizing parking, and evaluating and improving the Health and Dental Plan.
Vice President, Student Services Joyce Khouzam was not able to attend the meeting and entrusted Hibma to present her points, which included: introducing means for students to borrow charging equipment for phones and other devices, providing students with more free school supplies, offering hair ties and headphones for students at the Walker Complex, repairing microwaves across campus, making classrooms available for student use beyond class hours, posting classroom and bus schedules on campus and improving services on the downtown and Hamilton campuses.
Peter Henen presented his report, including: evaluating food services on campus, lobbying for Open Educational Resources, increasing voter turnout within the university and in municipal elections, introducing a football team, dissolving the partnership with the Goodman Students’ Association citing political differences, monthly campfires Henen says will be beginning again soon, creating opportunities for clubs to collaborate, introducing advertising in parking lots, and better helping international students to integrate on campus. Henen highlighted the importance of sexual violence prevention when asked about the connection between football programs and sexual violence on post-secondary campuses, but reiterated that this initiative was being planned as a result of student wishes.
The handful of students present was not enough to reach quorum, which is 2 per cent of organization members, including all undergraduate students. Hibma shared the power students have in the general meetings is far stronger when quorum is met. He provided two examples of actions students would have the power to take: removing an executive from their seat following abuse of power, and reallocating monies within the budget.
“We have traditionally, as noted through today’s attendance, have always had a low attendance rate for our annual general meetings. Moving forward, I think that creating better awareness in advance of time will create an inclusive environment that students will be willing to come to once they also understand the potential implications associated with hitting quorum,” said Hibma.