Here are notes from the special AMS Council meeting of April 14, 2021 and the regular AMS Council meeting of April 28, 2021 (both held virtually on Zoom):
Ethics and Accountability: On April 14 Council heard a report from the Ethics & Accountability Committee on the conflict of interest situation involving the VP External, Kalith Nanayakkara. The committee reported that the VP had been co-operative and apologetic, and its main recommendation was simply that he submit a formal written apology to Council, which he did for the April 28 meeting.
Council also directed the Governance Committee to look into clarifying and improving procedures surrounding conflict of interest.
Council also discussed the issues of rhetorical excess and distrust that emerged among students at large on such platforms as reddit concerning the conflict of interest situation.
April 28 meeting:
Code and Policy Changes: Council passed an omnibus motion of Code changes affecting the Student Life Committee, the Steering Committee, the Ethics & Accountability Committee, the Advocacy Committee, and agenda timing. Council also updated policies on responsible computer use, tuition consultation, and Executive goals.
Art Committee: Council disbanded the old committee on the Sale of Hatch Art Planning & Execution (SHAPE). In its place there will be a new Art Subcommittee under the Operations Committee.
Office Hours: Council extended the suspension of Executive office hours, but directed the Executive to come up with a standardized system to allow students at large to book appointments with Executives.
Events Committee: Council disbanded the original Events Structure and Audit Committee, and replaced it with a new one on Events Principles and Ethics.
Executive Goals: The Executive reported on how they had fulfilled their goals even in a pandemic year, with the Number 1 goal having been coping with the pandemic. Other goals from the year included:
Equity Plan: Adeline Huynh, the consultant hired to develop an Equity Plan for the AMS, reported on the work done so far, including focus groups and surveys which addressed such themes as communication, transparency, barriers to participation, and the need to incorporate equity, diversion, and inclusion. She noted that no other student society has developed an Equity Plan.
AMS President Cole Evans suggested there might be a need for an Equity Subcommittee (under the Executive) to implement the findings of the final report on equity (which is expected soon).
Budget: Council approved the annual preliminary budget, which forecasts a deficit of $1.3 million, anticipating continued COVID restrictions and decreased business revenue. Managing Director Keith Hester reported that Blue Chip Café continues to be a success. The Pie R Squared pizza shop will reopen in the fall. The Pit Pub will reopen in January, and there are plans to hold the Block Party next spring.
Services: Outgoing Student Services Manager Ian Stone reported that the year saw a huge increase in the number of students using the Food Bank, but a decline in the use of Safewalk. Group tutoring declined, but private tutoring increased. The Entrepreneurial Hub (eHub) showed a huge spike by going online with its RBC Get Seeded event. Peer Support is just finding its feet, and Housing has not started yet.
Tuition Increase: Board of Governors rep Georgia Yee reported that the tuition increase passed by one of the narrowest votes ever (10-8-1). She added that there is a need to address the tuition allocation model: UBC needs to move from one-time funding to plans for long-term student affordability.
Departing Executives: The four vice-presidents are leaving, and at least one of them (Georgia Yee, the VP Academic & University Affairs) spoke of being in a “mushy mood.”
Councillor(s) of the Year: The system was altered this year to allow Council members to vote and to expand the number of awards. The winners were as follows:
Councillor of the Year: Katherine Feng
Most Involved Councillor: Ryan Wong
Hardest Working Councillor: Sebastian Cooper
Most Improved Councillor: Mathew Ho
Most Positive Councillor: Agam Gill
The next regular Council meeting will be held on May 12, 2021 at 6 pm on Zoom.
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