The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) council addressed issues of low attendance at equity events during its Feb. 17 Council meeting. Council also heard updates regarding the budget of the Special Projects Fund, and on the most recent Senate hearing.
Equity events question
SUS Vice-President (VP) External Mary Helmer-Smith, brought up the lack of attendance at events hosted by the SUS Equity Committee, specifically the ‘CommuniTea Series’ which is intended to function as a safe discussion space.
“The event series was aimed towards different marginalized groups,” Helmer-Smith said. “[It] would open a space for people to come and discuss their experiences, drink tea, and hang out.”
Participation at these events has been low in the past—there have been zero attendees on some occasions. These low levels of attendance are thought to be attributed to a lack of interest within the student body, and minimal promotion and communication from the SUS; Helmer-Smith explained potential solutions to the problem.
“The Equity Committee is not really well known, […as] it doesn’t necessarily reach a lot of people,” Helmer-Smith said. “We’re not targeting people […] well enough.”
Helmer-Smith attributed this problem to the off-campus location for events, such as the Educational Community Living Environment (ECOLE).
“For some reason students seem to be apprehensive to go off campus,” Helmer-Smith said. “[ECOLE] is an unknown space for a lot of people, so they might be less willing to go to that space.”
Council approved a motion to include questions regarding the continuation of events for different marginalized groups for the upcoming referendum. These questions would determine whether students see a general importance with the continuation of such events, and if marginalized students are themselves interested in attending future events.
“The Equity committee thought it would be appropriate to ask the student body if this is something that interests them,” said Helmer-Smith. “Because if not, then there is no point in putting our time into it. But if so, then we just need to promote it better so that more people could come to it.”
Fall Reading Week
Science Senator Marina Smailes gave a report on the response of the Senate regarding a potential Fall Reading Week.
“There is a huge pushback from the Faculty of Science in particular,” Smailes said. “[The faculty believes] there are issues with making up labs, and in general […] issues that [the Faculty of] Science sees as something that they just don’t think the cost of that is worth giving students less stress.”
Smailes explained that the position of the Faculty poses problems, because nearly all other faculties have endorsed this initiative.
“We are going to be working with specifically the Science faculty and administrators to try to figure out a way to resolve this, as students really want it.”
Special Projects Fund
VP Finance Sibat Anam addressed the lack of money in the Special Projects Fund, as a result of the events hosted this year and events planned for later this semester.
“At this point, the original funding amount for the special projects fund has been used up,” Anam said. “We have plans to see if we can replenish that fund somehow. If that does not work out then congrats, this is the first year in the three years I’ve been on this committee that the fund has been used up completely.”
Anam added that in the future, more finite guidelines are planned to be put in place so that future funds can also be used up completely and efficiently.