VP Social resignation and BdA improprieties
During last Wednesday’s Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Council meeting, the AUS discussed the replacement process for Kyle Rouhani, who recently resigned as VP Social. According to a statement by Rouhani on his Facebook page, he decided to resign “for reasons of extreme personal, academic, and emotional duress met during the role.”
According to AUS President Ava Liu, issues involving alcohol permits for Bar des Arts (BdA) also factored into Rouhani’s resignation.
“There were improprieties [with the BdA liquor permit] which were symptoms, the VP Social says, of his inability to fulfill his portfolio due to […] duress,” she said.
She declined to elaborate further “out of respect for the VP Social.”
Liu further stated that BdA’s operation would not be affected by the resignation.
“BdA is run by a team under the VP Social portfolio [….] They’re very competent and they’re working very hard,” Liu said. “The liquor permit has been processed by the VP Internal of the AUS, so she will be taking over that role [….] Permits are secured for the rest of the semester and for next semester too [….] There are no repercussions going forward.”
Rouhani is the third AUS executive to resign this year, following the replacement of the VP Finance, Kateryn Kim by Li Xue and the VP Internal, Leila Alfaro by Roma Nadeem.
Replacement process and portfolio discussion
Liu outlined two options moving forward, a by-election or an appointment. Council members expressed concern that, under the appointment system, only current members of AUS standing committees can be considered. A straw poll revealed, however, that most councillors were also opposed to a by-election as the process would take a long time.
“It’s too late to hold [a by-election] without running into exam period, and if we go into next semester, we won’t have someone in the role until mid-February,” Liu said. “Therefore, I don’t think [a by-election is] feasible.”
After further discussion, the council reached a solution that addressed the councillors’ concerns.
“I will send out a callout to AUS for people who are interested in running for the position to fill out the Event Planning and Implementation Committee (EPIC) application form […] and from there we will hold an appointment next session,” Liu said.
Liu explained that EPIC already consisted of most of the candidates who were to run for the vacant portfolio, and any interested candidates currently not on one of the AUS’ committees could make themselves eligible for appointment by applying for one of the many empty seats on EPIC.
With the replacement process decided, discussion moved onto the portfolio itself. Members of the council and the audience called into question the portfolio’s structure, citing the stress associated with transitioning from frosh into the school year.
“I think that the new VP Social should not have the responsibilities outlined in the portfolio for the rest of the year and should instead focus on restructuring the portfolio,” Christine Koppenaal, U1 Psychology, said. “I think that there’s an inherent problem with the portfolio as demonstrated by the fact that this is not the first VP Social to resign in the last few years. The […] portfolio is just too overwhelming for one person to handle.”
Arts Internship Office (AIO) Fee
Xue met with the Financial Management Committee (FMC) to discuss the structure of the proposed $2.25 per credit fee to reform advising and career services. The FMC recommended that the financing be modelled after similar faculty-specific services such as the Desautels Career Service (DCS) and the Engineering Career Centre (ECC). However, there was disagreement over the fairness of imposing $1.5 million of the endowment fund on Arts students over the next five years.
“There was a split on whether or not the endowment model was the recommendation, because [it seems] like a certain pack of students [will be paying] for future students to access these services,” Xue said.
Xue offered several solutions to this issue, including extending the endowment period over a greater number of years in order to spread out the costs. VP Academic Erin Sobat proposed to set aside time in the next council meeting for a town hall to discuss the fee.
SNAX sandwich freeze
Sobat met with Deputy Provost Ollivier Dyens to discuss the recent order from the university to discontinue sandwich sales at SNAX, a snack and beverage stand run by the AUS. Following years of selling sandwiches, the administration recently ordered SNAX to stop its sales, claiming that they had only discovered the violation of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) this year.
According to Sobat, Dyens was against renegotiating SNAX’s MoA with the university, and mentioned that he was concerned that allowing concessions to SNAX would open the door for other student organizations to violate their MoAs.
“I pointed out that this is not a pattern of opening doors; this is a pattern of closing them,” Sobat said, in reference to the closure of the popular student-run Architecture Café by the administration in 2010.
“Moving forward, our goal is to set up a meeting with the Provost and a representative from [McGill Food and Dining Services] to find a solution,” Sobat said.
Xue said she met with SNAX Manager Hasan Nizami, who was optimistic about the establishment’s survival despite being unable to sell sandwiches.
“They are introducing new options,” Xue said. “For example, kosher food […] and Indian [meals] such as butter chicken […] because [they are] finding that a lot of the sandwich customers aren’t coming back.