All Posts Tagged With: "Alma Mater Society"
Campus pubs suffer from costly servers and low prices
Ask a pub owner to describe a dream location and it would have to be where thousands of thirsty twentysomethings pass by each day. That’s why Noah Davis-Power is dumbfounded that the Breezeway, the bar run by his student union, has lost roughly $120,000 a year for two years. Its owner, the Memorial University of Newfoundland Student Union, has a total budget of $1.2 million, most of which comes from mandatory student fees. “If you worked it out real quick,” says Davis-Power, “each student’s losing $10 a year [at the bar]. That’s two beer poured down the drain.”
Campus pubs propped up by student fees are surprisingly common, due to bad management, high labour costs and pressure from students for artificially low prices. By the time the University of Windsor’s Thirsty Scholar pub shut down in April, it was more than $1 million in debt.
Wait for better transit to campus keeps getting longer
In the Western Gazette this week, writer Mary Ann Ciosk describes a scene that plays out hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of times a year in university towns across Canada:
“I check the time again—the bus is now 20 minutes late, and I have three minutes remaining before my class starts… Finally, a low mechanical growl can be heard in the distance, and around the corner appears our salvation, the 2 Dundas! But as the bus approaches, a new horror sets in. The 2 does not slow as it draws near the stop, but speeds past us with its cargo of disgruntled students tightly packed together—the bus is full.”
The issue of full buses making students late has long captured the imagination of campus news editors and student leaders. This fall is no exception. University of Lethbridge students pushed for better transit at a recent mayoral candidates debate. The Carleton University Students’ Association recently met with Ottawa transit officials to tell them too many students are getting passed up. In Victoria, B.C., post-secondary students held up signs on a street corner protesting poor service.
Nonetheless, in some cities at least, the wait for a better ride to campus just keeps got longer.
Elections bring music videos, apps, streaming & more
Student elections are underway across the country. Increasingly, student politicians are turning to social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get their messages out. On top of that, in an attempt to attract more students to polling stations, those who administer campus elections have also taken advantage of these tools. Here are five innovative examples from 2013:
1. YouTube music video. At Western University, Ashley McGuire, Blake Barkley and Jordan Sojnocki teamed up to run for the University Students’ Council executive. Along with a sleek campaign website and a detailed platform, the trio created a music video and uploaded it to YouTube. What’s impressive is that, since posting it on Jan. 28, the video has received 10,500 views. However, members of Team McGuire were not successful in their election bids.
2. iPhone app. Team Whelan (Patrick Whelan, Amir Eftekharpour and Sam Krishnapillai) ran against Ashley McGuire’s team at Western University. This team’s electoral victories may have been aided by their iPhone app. I tested it on my iPod Touch 4G. To my surprise, it ran flawlessly. Under the Get Involved tab, users are able to join the team’s mailing list, suggest an idea and become a volunteer. The team’s platform is also easily accessible via the app.
3. The QR Code. When campus election season comes along, buildings are plastered with posters. So how are student politicians attracting students to their websites? Simple! They’re incorporating Quick Response (QR) codes to their posters that make it easy to access their sites without even having to type in a URL. Apps such as ScanLife, QR Code Scanner and Optiscan use one’s phone camera to scan a two-dimensional barcode. Once scanned, the app brings users to the site. Sarah Lavers, Kelsey Marr and Anastasia Smallwood all ran for president in the recent University of Prince Edward Island Student Union election and incorporated QR codes. Smallwood came first.*
4. Blogs. Platforms such as Blogger and WordPress allow users to create blogs free of charge. Student politicians have seized the opportunity to communicate directly with their electorates. Candidates like Caroline Wong, who ran for and won the position of president in the University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society elections, used WordPress to create her campaign website.
5. Video streaming and recording. When organizing all-candidate debates, election officials will never accommodate every student’s schedule. In an attempt to make these debates as accessible as possible, election officials have taken to live streaming and/or filming the debates and posting the videos to YouTube. Free video live streaming websites such as USTREAMand Livestream allow anybody with a video camera or an iPhone to stream free of charge. The Argosy, Mount Alison University’s student newspaper, posted videos of candidate speeches to its YouTube account.
Brandon Clim studies political science at the University of Ottawa. Follow him @climbrandon.
*Due to an error in editing, this post incorrectly stated that Lavers came first and Marr came second in the UPEISU election. In fact, Smallwood came first, followed by Lavers and Marr.
But they’ll keep Whistler Lodge, for now
Results are in from the 2012 elections at the University of British Columbia’s Alma Mater Society.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the chance to reduce the Student Spaces Fund fee from $16.13 to $12.25, students voted nearly four to one in the favour of the reduction, reports The Ubyssey.
A more controversial measure, selling off three pieces of the AMS’s art collection, passed easily—72 per cent voted in favour, 14 per cent were opposed and 14 per cent skipped the question.
Referendum results show 72% of students want Nick Day gone
Undergraduates at Queen’s University have voted 72 per cent in favour of making a recommendation to the university to impeach rector Nick Day.
A referendum was held from March 22 to 23 where students were asked to respond to the question:
Shall it be recommended to the University Council of Queen’s University that Nick Day not continue to hold the office of Rector of Queen’s University at Kingston? Yes ___, No ___.
A total of 3803 students voted (out of an eligible 14244): 2714 votes were in favour of the recommendation (72 per cent), while 1061 of votes were opposed (28 per cent).
The Alma Mater Society (AMS) at Queen’s University immediately released a statement saying, “Since the result of this Special AMS Student Vote are in the affirmative, the Society therefore recommends to the University Council of Queen’s University that Nick Day not continue to hold the Office of Rector of Queen’s University at Kingston.”
Day recently came under fire for writing a public letter defending Israeli Apartheid Week to Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and signing with his official university title. Noting in his letter that that he “was elected to represent the approximately 20,000 students of Queen’s University,” Day claimed that Israel was guilty of genocide and is acting as the perpetrator of “perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation.”
Day was also formally censured by the AMS Assembly back in November for statements he made during a Remembrance Day address.
Student union says Sumo suits are ‘racist,’ cancels fundraiser
They’re all activities you’d find on campus during Frosh Week?
They’re all instruments of oppression, manifesting innocently behind a guise of “harmless fun,” wreaking havoc on the consciousnesses of privileged white students.
Thank [insert name of respective deity] that we have the Alma Mater Society, the student government at Queen’s University, to tell us what we should feel guilty about. Read their two-page apology, and you’ll learn why the “SUMO Showdown,” scheduled during their food bank fundraiser, “fails to capture the deeply imbedded histories of violent and subversive oppression that a group has faced.”
And those puffy Sumo suits? “Caused feelings of hurt,” writes AMS. They were not “being safe on-campus by planning this event.” Well, the pursuit of the jovial obviously blinded these students to their own privilege. “Regrettably,” they write, “those of us who were aware of the event did not critically consider the racist meaning behind it.”
Red-faced, I admit I didn’t see the racist meaning behind it. The bun, the Mawashi, the size of the wrestler–that’s what makes Sumo intriguing and distinctive. The AMS thinks wearing these cultural garments dehumanizes the culture; I think it simply identifies it. Mike Grobe, a spokesman for Queen’s Athletics, didn’t see the controversy either. He told the National Post, “It’s the first time we’ve heard of [the racist aspects].” Queen’s Athletics uses the suits regularly at half-time shows. “They’re pink… No one’s complained.”
I didn’t think our cultural climate was so volatile that any mirth is suddenly menacing. But I guess I was wrong.
The AMS apology further reads, “The event also devalues an ancient and respected Japanese sport.” Well, amen, friends. Someone should also tell Carl Douglas, singer of “Kung Fu Fighting,” to stop devaluing that ancient and respected sport. Poke fun at any cultural traditions–but leave the sports alone.
Making a fuss over Sumo suits–does it trivialize more serious issues of oppression and racism? I’d think about it further, but it’s much easier to just let my student leaders decide for me.
AMS exec powers neutered over unauthorized UN tuition complaint
After 12 days of campus controversy and student politics machinations, the UBC Alma Mater Society President (AMS) executives who issued an unauthorized human rights complaint to the United Nations will keep their jobs. A recall motion, to have President Blake Frederick and Vice President Eexternal Tim Chu impeached, was pulled back only after it was discovered at the 11th hour that doing so through a vote of student council would have been illegal.
The complaint to the UN alleged the B.C. and federal governments were responsible for “gross human rights violations” due to the cost of tuition.
Following a unanimous motion by student council a week ago to ask Frederick and Chu to resign following the complaint they filed on behalf of the AMS—without approval or knowledge from AMS Council—the stage was set for a special meeting to recall the two. However, following veiled threats by Frederick and Chu that they would be considering legal action if they were removed by council, a legal opinion was sought on how the two of them could be removed as Directors of the AMS.
Most councilors were fairly certain the legal opinion would allow them to proceed. The meeting was set for 4pm on Monday. At 3:30, the opinion came in—and it clearly stated that to recall/impeach the two of them would be a contravention of BC’s Society Act, which the AMS is legally bound by. The Act requires a petition signed by at least two per cent of UBC students and a meeting with the same number of students, with 75 per cent voting for recall.
So, though the complaint to the UN had been retracted and Frederick had apologized for his actions, council decided to gut, strip, and neuter Frederick and Chu of their powers, with a variety of measures designed to completely paralyze the largest student union in Canada for the next two months. These include:
a) No press releases can be sent without the permission of student council.
b) Frederick and Chu cannot have meetings or communications that could adversely affect the reputation of the AMS with important stakeholders (UBC Administration, provincial/federal government) without approval of student council.
c) An official censure of Frederick of Chu.
d) Frederick, Chu, and the rest of the AMS executive (whom, hilariously, all signed off on cheques that allowed the AMS to go forward with the legal complaint without knowing what they were signing) are forced to write weekly reports detailing their hour-by-hour activities.
e) Frederick will no longer chair the Executive Committee.
f) Next year’s executive will take power on February 12th, two weeks earlier than usual, in order to prevent Frederick and Chu from saying, doing, or thinking anything that might cause controversy during the Winter Olympics (this wasn’t stated in the actual motion, but it’s widely acknowledged as the subtext for the decision).
But will the motion pass? This time, for a variety of reasons, the result isn’t certain
If one thing has been made clear over the past few weeks on this website, it’s that’s the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is definite water-cooler talk. That is, if the Internet had some sort of equivalent of a water cooler. But regardless, through a combination of its size and its penchant for creating controversy, the CFS can definitely be considered sexy within the realm of Canadian post-secondary student government/lobbying. Which isn’t saying much. But still.
However, the CFS’ counterpart, the smaller and federally-focused Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, keeps trundling along, working exclusively on issues of federal jurisdiction. Its largest member, UBC, may be fully pulling out of the group tonight. A motion has been put forward to the student council that would see the Alma Mater Society (AMS) fully remove itself from CASA. One of the things CASA trumpets as a selling point is that members can easily join and leave whenever they see fit without a full-scale referendum—and UBC students may just take full advantage of that.
Curiously, the end of the motion reads: (click for the entire motion)
“Be it further resolved that the AMS remain unaffiliated to any federal lobbying organization, for no less than two years; and
Be it further resolved that if the AMS considers affiliation with an external lobbying organization, it negotiate with CASA first.”
It’s a clear compromise on those who drafted the motion to find common ground with councillors who are neutral on the relative merits of CASA, but are strongly against joining the CFS. On the other hand, if federal fixed-election laws have taught us anything, it’s that these sorts of “we pwomise” motions/laws can easily be circumvented. A new executive and council could come in and override all of this.
So will the motion pass? Last year at this time, the AMS voted to step down to associate member status within CASA (the motion passed unanimously). This time however, the vote is not so certain. Much of the conflict has come due to the clumsy way the AMS executive has tried to distance itself from the organization. Most memorably, an email to students sent by VP External Tim Chu, the AMS claimed that “CASA is an organization that has quite a bit of problems. These problems include… Spending more money on cell phones than member relations.” Which would be ridiculous. If it were true.
However, in a meeting with UBC, National Director Arati Sharma said that CASA talked more about the cell phone budget than the member relations budget at their last AGM. Oops. Furthermore, the external office of the AMS, which is in charge of carrying out lobbying, hasn’t exactly been controversy-free in the last few months. It’ll be up to councillors to determine if Canada’s largest student union can competently handle external lobbying without any outside help or affiliation. I’ll have a report up on the decision once it breaks tonight (or, for those out on the east coast, more likely tomorrow morning).
UPDATE: Earlier today, Arati Sharma sent a letter to AMS Councillors and campus media which contained this interesting tidbit:
“In the current contract between the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia – Vancouver, and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (point 7 on page 3 of the attached Full Member Agreement), the AMS agreed to the exit provisions of Article 4 of the constitution (page 2 of attached Constitution 2007), which states in 4.10:
“A Full member reverting to Associate Membership or an Associate Member withdrawing from the organization must notify the Board of Directors in writing no less than thirty (30) calendar days in advance of employing the necessary legislative steps in the Member’s constitution or Bylaws.”
Two CASA representatives met with AMS representatives on October 8, 2009 but no notice of tonight’s motion was given. CASA was informed by the UBC Insiders (a campus blog) Twitter feed instead.