Council Summary, November 28th 2018

Here are notes from the regular AMS Council meeting of November 28, 2018:


New Speaker: Kareem Ibrahim became the eighth Council Speaker in AMS history, being appointed at the beginning of the meeting.


Indigenous Committee: Council approved the creation of an Indigenous Committee.  Max Holmes, Chair of the Advocacy Committee, called it an important step for the AMS.  Indigenous student Rodney Little Mustache, who was a major figure in getting the committee created, said, “Our ancestors will be happy.”


Conflict Engagement: UBC’s Dr. Aftab Erfan spoke to Council about a framework for conflict engagement, the idea being to ensure that conflict serves as a resource to be harvested rather than something negative.


Services Report: Student Services Manager Piers Fleming and several of the Student Service Coordinators reported on developments in the Services this year.  He said the new data collection is going really well, but the social media plan has been slower than hoped.  More students are using AMS Tutoring and the Food Bank.  Speakeasy and Vice have moved into a new space.  The Entrepreneurship Hub is developing partnerships.


Executive Goals: The Executive reported on their progress so far.  President Marium Hamid noted that four major staff positions have been filled as well as several vacancies at the Sexual Assault Support Centre.  The new website is up, money was obtained from the University for Food Bank, the Advisory Board is being re-established, and an apology was issued to the Indigenous community.

VP Finance Kuol Akuechbeny said the amount of money that can go to students from AMS funds has been increased, the credit card program has been expanded, a new financial reporting system has been introduced, and there is a new investment policy in place.

VP Administration Chris Hakim said nine AMS groups have been moved into the basement of the Life Building as part of the last phase of the New SUB Project and now the focus is on reopening the Norm Theatre.  The Departmental Clubs situation has been solved, the Operations Committee Manual is being rewritten, and work is underway to develop an online voting platform for clubs.  Also, the Art Gallery is putting on more shows than previously, a Sustainability subcommittee has been created, Mugshare is underway, and talks are ongoing to increase psychological coverage in the Health and Dental Plan.

VP External Cristina Ilnitchi said relationships have been developed with other student unions, there has been advocacy for upfront student grants, the provincial government has adopted most of our asks, discussions are underway about student rental rights, she is working with the Mayors Council about extending SkyTrain, and the Student Union Development Summit attracted 135 delegates.

VP Academic & University Affairs Max Holmes said the AMS was able to get the review of survivor-centric sexual assault support moved up by a year.  It also opposed the latest tuition increases, with there being an unusually close vote at the Board of Governors committee to approve them.  $1 million had been won for undergraduate research and $3 million for an integrated health centre, including transgendered health.  A new policy on accommodating students with disabilities is close to being adopted, the Indigenous Committee was created, and consultations are underway about a Fall Reading Break.


Teamwork: The chairs of the Governance and Student Life committees (Dylan Braam and Jerome Goddard) presented ideas for improving the functioning of Council, including: having the Executive send written reports to Council before each meeting, having the Executive prepare a yearly timeline of upcoming activities and issues, increasing the use of Consultation Period, providing more orientation for Councillors, implementing a feedback system, adding social events, and expanding the Councillor Handbook.


Advisory Board: Council for the first time appointed members to the newly restructured Advisory Board, the body meant to provide advice on AMS goals.  The members include former VP Finance Louis Retief and former Student Services Manager Ron Gorodetsky.  Also appointed: Alessia Rodriguez Di Eugenio, Perry Atwal, and Dharini Thiruchittampalam.


Financial Report: VP Finance Kuol Akuechbeny reported that revenue from fees and businesses was good and expenditures were on budget.


More Chairs: Managing Director Keith Hester said that having heard from people saying there was not enough seating in the Nest, more chairs are being added in the Atrium.


Code changes: Council approved changes to remove transitional honorariums for the Ombudsperson and the Elections Administrator and to ensure that hiring for these positions is done early.  Also to remove oversight powers from the Advisory Board.


Missing President and Pit Anniversary: The Archivist noted that the picture of the first AMS President, Sherwood Lett, has gone missing from the Council Chambers.  On a happier note he added that it was the 50th anniversary of the Pit Pub.


Next meeting:  The next regular Council meeting will be at 6 pm on January 9, 2019 in the Michael Kingsmill Forum on the fourth floor of the Nest.