BUSU executives provided updates regarding their initiatives and the realization of their platform points at the January 29 Annual General Meeting. It was also the first opportunity for students to hear from interim VPEA, Nadia Bathish.
Bathish, who also held the position for the 2017-2018 year, officially took on the role on Jan. 24, replacing former Vice President, External Affairs Peter Henen who was removed last term through a recall referendum. The decision was ratified at last weeks Brock University Students’ Administrative Council meeting after the hiring committee formed by the Brock University Students’ Union selected Bathish.
“It is within our bylaws that, to replace an executive, we have to hold a transparent hiring process that’s transparent to the membership, which is our entire community,” said BUSU President Aidan Hibma.
According to Bathish, she is not entering the role with platform points on which to deliver, but merely to ensure the role is filled and the work the position requires is done. This includes working to transition the incoming VPEA who will be selected in the upcoming Executive Elections, participating in OUSA and CASA and supporting and running other advocacy campaigns in areas such as transit and student rights.
The team also presented updates regarding the formation of a strategic plan for BUSU and new O-Week funding as a result of the student engagement levy, which passed in a referendum last term. 64.4 per cent of 4,079 students voted back in October in favour of a $100 annual fee to be charged to all incoming first-year students, which would be spent towards O-Week.
According to Hibma, one of the main upcoming referendums is a new student centre building. BUSU plans to release a survey within days to ensure student consultation is a part of this process. He claims the initiative already has the support of the university and has been discussed with the Board of Trustees as well as the rest of the council. The building’s opening is anticipated for the fall of 2022 or 2023, if a referendum were to pass.
Updates for the The Zone fitness centre expansion were also provided, with a ceremony for breaking ground planned for the first week of April and construction set to begin in May.
With the recent Ontario government announcement on OSAP, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance will be issuing a joint statement, according to Hibma, regarding the recent changes to tuition and OSAP.
“For all students, I would like them to continue to make sure their voices are heard in a manner that will allow us to be truly effective,” said Hibma. “For any and all students I recommend OUSA’s website, where you can submit testimonials about how these changes to OSAP will impact your future education.”
The executives also detailed individual and team efforts further as each executive presented a speech about their platform points and portfolio.
Bilal Khan, the Vice President, Finance and Administration shared hopes to reintroduce the Winterberry bus route, improve classroom modernization, provide a bank of course syllabi, extend the hours the gym will be open and ensure affordable parking.
During his time as VPFA, Khan has extended hours of popular bus routes on evenings and weekends, providing a subsidy for students purchasing bus passes in the spring and summer, increased vision coverage under the health and dental plan, helped bring Hopscotch to campus and contributed to the improvement in the Food First program.
Vice President, Student Services Joyce Khouzam spoke about introducing naloxone training for staff and progress with Food First, the exam-time Drive Home period, water bottle refill stations, wellness initiatives and introverted activities for students. Her plans to introduce sanitary products in bathrooms have slowed because of the uncertainty around funding prompted by recent changes to tuition and the OSAP program. She also plans to bring more fitness equipment, microwaves and refrigerators to the Hamilton campus.
Khan and Khouzam are the two candidates running for BUSU President in the upcoming February Elections.
Hibma also provided updates regarding plans to introduce a parking app on campus, the Grad Send-Off anatomy table, an app for ordering food from campus vendors via mobile, introducing equipment to the Hamilton campus, evaluating coffee vendors and the omnibus agreement with Brock. Hibma noted his previous plan to increase student representation on the Board of Trustees is not feasible, so he will continue to work to find alternatives.
Voting for the Executive Elections will take place Feb. 12-14 via student BrockU emails to determine the 2019/2020 BUSU executives.