DSU Council Blog 9

*Hi folks, sorry this is going up so late. Most of the info here is a outdated now (check out election results here), but scroll to the bottom for some general council news -Tora

March 7th 2018

Hey everyone!

The DSU Council has met the past 4 weeks (in a row) so there is a lot to catch up on!

Elections

As you hopefully have heard, DSU elections are well underway! While unfortunately no one is running for Science Representative (more details to come on what this will mean for DSS soon), there are many candidates running this year for executive positions and other council seats. Be sure to check out their platform points here or take a look on social media under the hashtag #dsuvotes. I also highly recommend checking out the debates, available here . I think this is going to be a very important year for DSU elections so be sure to get informed and vote online March 12th-13th through your Dal e-mail.

 

DSU Special General Meeting

On March 29th, 2018 at 6pm the DSU will be having a Special General Meeting in order to review and consider the proposed amendments to the DSU bylaws. I highly recommend attending this meeting as we need 1% of the DSU membership present to achieve quorum and it is a great way to have a voice within your student union and learn more about our proposed bylaw changes. The proposed bylaws are available here.

DSU Council News

At our last meeting, on March 7th we voted on and passed an endorsement on DASSS’s Rick Mehta motion and approved the Survivor Support Centre mission, vision, mandate and tag lines which can be found with council documents here along with other documents and previous meeting minutes. As always, our meetings can be viewed on our YouTube channel, here.

Thank you and don’t forget to vote March 12th-13th!

Katie MacLellan

DSU Science Rep

DSU Council Blog 7 & 8

Hey everyone! Welcome back to DSU Council Blogs! My resolution this year is to keep up with these blogs so those of you following can stay relatively up to date with what’s happening at the DSU.

January 10th, 2018

 At our January 10th meeting we had two committee appointments. Arazoo Hoseyni (Computer Science Representative) was appointed to the Accessibility Fund Committee. This committee distributes grants to applicants with disabilities to allow them to address accessibility associated costs. We also had the appointment of Liam Finnegan (an Economics student) to the Budget and Finance committee. It’s always great to see science students getting involved in these committees!

January 24th, 2018

At our January 24th meeting, we had a very full agenda. We heard a presentation from DSAS (Dalhousie Student Advocacy Services). This is an incredible services provided primarily by volunteer law students that provide support to students with academic offenses, or who are facing discrimination or harassment at Dalhousie. I recommend checking out DSAS on the DSU website found here, it’s an awesome service to be aware of!

We also heard a motion that proposed congratulating President Florizone (full text available in the agenda, here). Although I did see the merit of this motion, ultimately with discussion I had to agree that there were many instances of President Florizone’s actions not aligning very well with the needs and desires of the student population, for example when the University failed to provide adequate funding for the Survivor Support Phone Line. As well, the point was made that supporting a member of the University Administration when there have been discussions of a Faculty strike may give the wrong idea about where the Student Union’s allegiances lie.

A motion was also put forward to take a stance on the state of tuition costs and budget cuts and the potential faculty strike. It was mentioned that the DSU take a stance against any tuition increases and that the DSU work to support the Dalhousie Faculty Association’s “demand for adequate faculty funding, lower workload, and improved comparability”. A divided and revised version of this motion was passed by council, and a notice of motion was given for a proposed DSU policy. The full text of which can be found here

It was a very eventful meeting so feel free to check out the video recording on YouTube . Also if you are interested in running for the DSU Executive or Council, nominations open February 9th and a full timeline is available online . If you have any questions about the positions (including Science Representative), elections in general, or council let me know at kmaclellan@dal.ca.

Disclaimer: These are my personal accounts from council meetings, if you would like to see and listen to the full open session meeting, see our livestreams available on the DSU YouTube account.

Katie MacLellan

DSU Science Rep

Council Blog 6

November 1st

Hi everyone! Welcome back to the blog, this time I will be catching you up on what has happened at our November 1st council meeting.

So on November 1st, we had the appointment open once again for the LGBTQ+ Representative on the Elections Review Committee, this position has been open for several months now. The committee was created in April to examine the DSU Elections process in our last election, particularly to research oppressive practices of the elections process. All members of this committee must be BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Colour). If you or any student you know would be interested and meet the qualifications for the position please contact the DSU Council Chair (dsuchair@gmail.com).  Other appointments included councillor appointments of Rhys MacDonald (Faculty of Graduate Students Representative) to the Budget and Finance Committee, and Chelsea Cox (Faculty of Law Representative) to the Student Life Committee.

At this meeting an amendment to the Ethical Investment Policy was put forward that would create an Ethical Investment sub-committee under the Budget and Finance Committee, and report on the investments of the union. This committee could make suggestions for changes in investments that would have to go through council. There was a suggestion that the councillor (Yazan Khader, Faculty of Engineering Representative) that moved this motion forward on behalf of the Budget and Finance committee had a conflict of interest as they currently sat on the Budget and Finance Committee and would sit on the Ethical Investment Committee, however this councillor did not sit on the Ethical Investment Committee as it was not yet formed, and they have since resigned from the Budget and Finance Committee. I voted in favour of the new Ethical Investment Policy which can be viewed here, and the amended policy passed.

Another motion that passed at the November 1st meeting was a statement of support for councillors Kati George-Jim (Board of Governors Representative) and Masuma Khan (DSU VP Academic and External). The letter which you can read here is signed by the DSU executives and includes a statement of support for Masuma and Kati who have both experienced systemic racism from the institution of Dalhousie University. The document also includes a list of recommendations for the University to address systemic racism within the institution. There was a somewhat lengthy discussion on this motion I encourage you to watch it here if you are interested in the details of this discussion. I voted in favour of this motion, if you have any questions about this motion or any motions feel free to contact me at kmaclellan@dal.ca.

Council also reviewed the proposed schedule for the 2018 Annual General Elections, we found that the proposed timeline for 16 days (March 12th-27th) of campaigning was too long for students especially close to exam season, so with that feedback and a few other suggestions the Elections Committee will review and come up with a new timeline proposal. If you have any feedback or questions about council do not hesitate to contact me at kmaclellan@dal.ca. Our final council meeting of the term is on December 6th at 6 pm in SUB Council Chambers and is open to the public.

Disclaimer: These are my personal accounts from council meetings, if you would like to see and listen to the full open session meeting, see our livestream  available on the DSU YouTube account.

Katie MacLellan

DSU Science Rep

The Frustrations of First Year!

Dear First Year Science Students,

I hope your first few months at Dalhousie University have lived up to your expectations. So far, many of you have been through O-week, gotten to know your residence neighbors, and the big one… started your classes. Odds are most of you have also already written one, if not many midterms. First year chemistry, phycology, biology, statistics, calculus, physics… the list goes on. I remember how it felt to walk into the first one not knowing what to expect. Can you believe that you are already half way done with your first semester of first year? Time flies by, and it continues to do so as you progress through your undergraduate degree. With that said, remember that right now, in your first-year chemistry, biology, etc. class, you are building a foundation for your future. Whether you want to be a research scientist, doctor, or meteorologist, the information you learn now will allow to be a better communicator and more knowledgeable citizen. Science isn’t just about sitting in front of a computer writing your thesis alone or the dozens of Friday nights you put in, just you and the rats in your lab. You are impacting future government policies, and school curricula, as a generation of informed citizens.

Although right now if feels like an uphill battle of, “I just need to get through this week”, keep on attending classes, handing in your assignments, and studying for those midterms. Although it doesn’t feel like much right now, the foundation you build in your classes will support you in your studies and future career.

Council Blog 5

Hey everyone, long-time no blog! So as you may know, the DSU AGM took place on Wednesday, October 11th, unfortunately we did not reach quorum (the number required for any votes or decisions at this meeting to be valid). As this was the case, the meeting ended up being quite short with a few presentations about executive goals, the Survivor Support Centre, and the Auditor’s report. Since I have already touched on a lot of what we went over in previous blogs, I decided to dedicate this blog to talking about how you as a Dal student can get the most out of the DSU.

The first way you can benefit from the DSU is accessing its many services on campus. For example, did you know that the DSU runs a foodbank in the SUB? This is a service run by the DSU and its volunteers to provide food for students in need. The DSU also offers weekly appointments with a lawyer if you have any legal questions or need documents notarized. If you are interested in (free) yoga classes, the DSU runs yoga as well as many other wellness programs throughout the week in the SUB.

 We also have an incredible new service this year, our Survivor Support Centre. This centre is located on the third floor SUB, just down the hall from Campus Copy in room 347, and includes a phone line that is operated by trained student volunteers and our wonderful Survivor Support Centre Manager, Shannon. This centre and other DSU offices like Sustainability Office, and the Equity and Accessibility Office are here to support students like you. If you are looking for really affordable produce on campus look no further than the DSU Market, operating in the SUB on Tuesdays (10:00am-5:00pm) and Wednesdays (10:00am-4:00pm) and on Sexton campus from 11:00am-3:00pm on Wednesdays. They have a great variety of fresh and affordable produce every week!

If you are interested in getting involved with the DSU, check out the Union committees, and volunteer opportunities online. Follow the DSU on Facebook and check out the DSU website for volunteer and committee opportunities regularly! If you have any questions about volunteering, committee opportunities, or DSU resources, feel free to reach out anytime by emailing me here (kmaclellan@dal.ca).

 

Helpful Links:

Foodbank hours (http://www.dsu.ca/foodbank)

Legal Aid (http://www.dsu.ca/services/community-student-services/legal-counsel)

Wellness Room Schedule (http://www.dsu.ca/wellness)

Survivor Support Centre (http://www.dsu.ca/survivorsupport)

Campus Copy (http://www.dsu.ca/campuscopy)

DSUSO (http://dsu.ca/dsuso)

E&A (http://dsu.ca/equity)

DSU Market (http://www.dsumarket.ca/)

DSU Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/dalstudentunion/)

 

Katie MacLellan

DSU Science Rep

Council Blog 4

Hi Everyone and welcome to another DSU Council Blog! Although a large portion of our meeting on September 27th was held in-camera, there are still lots of important updates. We started our meeting with appointments for Computer Science Representative (Arazoo Hoseyni) and Law (Chelsea Cox) Representatives on council. These positions will be elected in the upcoming bi-election, but these representatives will represent their constituents on council until that time. Speaking of the bi-elections, we also made the appointments for the Elections committee. So stay tuned to hear more about the bi-elections soon! We are also still looking for an LGBTQ2+ representative to sit on the Elections Review Committee, this position has remained open for many meetings now so if you are a member of the LGBTQ2+ and BIPOC communities and are interested in getting involved please reach out to me (kmaclellan@dal.ca) or the DSU Council Chair (dsuchair@gmail.com) for more information.

Our DSU Vice President of Finance and Operations, Chantal Khoury, also gave her presentation on the auditor’s report of the DSU finances. This report will be released publicly once the final version has been made, but essentially went over the audit of the DSU’s finances that showed the DSU is a not for profit organization, funded by students and the operations of the Student Union Building. The auditors were CPAs from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Any questions regarding the audit can be brought forward to the Vice President Finance and Operations, Chantal Khoury (vpfo@dsu.ca).

At our previous council meeting councillor Mary MacDonald (Students with a Disability Community Representative) brought forward a motion to recall the DSU Vice President Academic and External, Masuma Khan. This motion was brought forward in response to a post from Masuma’s personal facebook account regarding a post relating to the Canada Day motion from the NS Young Conservatives facebook page. The motion itself and list of reasons will be made available on the DSU website once the minutes from council are approved. Masuma’s lawyer, Nasha Nijhawan, spoke on Masuma’s behalf and provided written materials that will be made available on the DSU website with the council minutes. The materials referenced white fragility and the rights of leaders in Masuma’s position. Nasha Nijhawan also noted that a bylaw referenced in Mary MacDonald’s motion states that Councillors shall “Act honestly and in good faith with a view to the best interests of the Union in respect of matters for which the Council has the authority to act” (Bylaw 4.4 ). Nijhawan explained that this bylaw does not give council the authority to create a code of conduct to evaluate the private lives of councilors, rather, that decision must rely with the student body when it comes time for the next round of elections. Essentially, the argument was that it would be unlawful for council to take disciplinary action on Masuma. If you are interested in the details of these submissions, please watch the livestream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzpAucHWcnw) of our public session meeting. The remainder of the discussion was in-camera, but ultimately the motion failed and Masuma was not recalled.

I hope to see some Science Students at the DSU AGM tomorrow (Wednesday, October 11th) outside the Grawood in the Student Union Building at 5:30pm! If you have any question about the DSU in general or DSU council, please email me with any questions at all at kmaclellan@dal.ca.

 

Disclaimer: These are my personal accounts from council meetings, if you would like to see and listen to the full open session meeting, see our livestream (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzpAucHWcnw) available on the DSU YouTube account.

 

Katie MacLellan

DSU Science Rep

DSU Council Blog 3

Welcome to another DSU Council Blog! On September 13th the DSU Council met, some of the highlights were senate ratifications and appointments, committee appointments, and passing two motions.

As you may know, several societies (DSS included) put forward a representative to sit on the Dalhousie Senate as one of the 11 student representatives. At the DSU council meeting we ratified these positions. Vibhu Bhargava (a Neuroscience student) was ratified as our Science Representative. Other representatives ratified were Aaron Prosper (Indigenous Students Representative; Neuroscience student), and Chris Weiczorek (Arts Representative). We also appointed Lisa Hackett (Medical Science student) as the Women’s Representative, and Jad Sinno as the Graduate Students Representative. Once again we had lots of participation from science students, so that is awesome! These senators will sit on the Senate with Masuma Khan (DSU President Academic and External) and Amina Abawajy (DSU President) to represent student voices at Senate and Senate committee meetings.

We also heard a presentation from the DSU Executive outlining their goals for this academic year. Some notable goals mentioned were acquiring an accessible Tiger Patrol van so that this service can be available to students regardless of physical ability. They also talked about providing a wellness guide road map to simplify access to wellness services from the DSU and the University. The Survivor Support Centre was another big goal for the executive this year as this service gets started this fall. They would also like mandate Anti-Oppression training for levied and faculty level societies. I’m really excited to see how these goals unfold throughout this school year!

We had another appointment to the Elections Review Committee, another science student, Nadia Perry, was appointed as the accessibility representative, so congratulations to Nadia! The LGBTQ2+ position on this committee is still available if any students are interested in getting involved in this, they can contact me (kmaclellan@dal.ca). We also elected Katie Douglas (Women Students Community Representative; Neuroscience student), Mary MacDonald (Students with Disabilities Community Representative), Nadia Perry (a Biology Student) and Ashley Barr to the Student Accessibility Fund committee.

The council also voted on the Policy Development and Review Policy which aims to ensure that policies that are brought forward are reviewed first by the Bylaw and Policy Review committee to make sure that we are bringing forward good, high quality policies to council. There was the point brought up that this may discourage new policies being brought forward. I think this was a valid point; however, as I believe that careful consideration is important when adding and altering policy, I supported this motion and this motion passed in council.

We also looked at the Equity Motion, an amendment to this motion was proposed, and more  alterations were proposed in council. These changes are indicated in blue here. These changes passed and mean that the DSU will advise and instruct when possible that societies do not hold events in the University Club, as this location is not currently accessible to all students.

If you have any questions about this meeting, or DSU Council in general, please feel free to contact me at kmaclellan@dal.ca. All council related documents can be found online here. Our next meeting is on September 27th at 6:00pm in SUB Council Chambers and I encourage you all to come to our AGM on October 11th at 5pm in the SUB Atrium.

Disclaimer: These are my personal accounts from council meetings, if you would like to see and listen to the full open session meeting, see our livestream available on the DSU YouTube account.

Katie MacLellan

DSU Science Rep

DSU Council Blog 2

Hi everyone! Welcome back to another fall semester at Dal and another DSU Council blog! Our last meeting on August 23rd was our quickest yet, but there are a few notable moments from this meeting. We appointed our Chief Returning Officer for the DSU elections, Alex Li. They will be overseeing the upcoming elections for the DSU.

I also put forward a motion to publish documents, such as motions and presentations, to the DSU website within 24 hours of council, (found here) which passed! So if you want to follow along with what happens at DSU Council, it just got easier!

In other news, at our upcoming meeting this Wednesday (September 13th) we will be appointing a few non-councillor positions:

·         2 Elections Review Committee members (must be BIPOC)

o   Accessibility Representative

o   LGBTQ2+

·         2 Non Councillors for the Student Accessibility Fund Committee

If you are interested in any of these positions or have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at kmaclellan@dal.ca and come to our Council meeting at 6:00pm in the SUB Council Chambers this Wednesday (tomorrow). As well, if you have any questions about the DSU or getting involved on some other level, feel free to reach out anytime.

Katie MacLellan

DSU Science Rep

How to AGM: An Introductory Course

The first few weeks of September always see a flurry of AGMs, that is Annual General Meetings, and while these events can sound big and important and a little intimidating, they are often the best way to get involved in a society – so, I’m going to take a few moments to break down “the AGM” for you, so you can approach without fear of rejection or embarrassment. (I 100% guarantee that this wouldn’t happen even without this primer, but why risk it?)

Disclaimer: While I consider myself an experienced AGM-er, all societies and AGMs are different, so these are more general guidelines than hard fast rules. The bottom line is that student societies want you to get involved, so if you’re ever unsure of what’s going on, just ask!

Step one is figuring out when and where the AGM is. Usually societies are pretty good at advertising these details. THE DSS AGM IS MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 11th AT 7PM ON THE 2nd FLOOR OF THE SUB. (Told you so.) If you can’t find them though, try checking the society’s Facebook page or asking someone you know is involved with the society.

Next is the approach. Your first cue should be finding a group of students who look like they’re waiting for something. They might also have pizza (this is an extra good sign). If you’ve never been to a meeting before it can be a bit nerve racking to go up to a group of strangers and ask if you’re in the right place. Overcome this fear! If you are unsure if you’ve found the right group of students, simply ask, “Is this the [insert society name] meeting?” Even if they say no, they’ll probably be able to send you in the right direction.

You’ve found the meeting! Things are looking good. If you’re early I recommend scoring a good seat and striking up a conversation with those nearby so you will have allies during the meeting who can pass you more snacks. Things usually get started with some introductions and explanatory notes. If you’ve found yourself a quality society they’ll probably feed you before things get going (there’s nothing worse than talking constitutional amendments on an empty stomach).

As the meeting gets started you’ll quickly realize that AGMs aren’t nearly as exciting as the society wanted you to believe when they were trying to get you to come to the event. They often involve a lot of long and boring discussion about things that probably don’t matter all that much (cough cough constitutional amendments). NEVERTHELESS, you have your snacks and everybody will be motivated to get through the boring stuff quickly. Soon, you’ll get to the bit that everybody shows up for… the actually doing stuff bit.

What “actually doing stuff” looks like will vary from society to society, but it will usually involve some combination of appointing people to positions, discussing upcoming events, and general society business. The latter two items are fairly straight forwards, but let’s take a closer look at appointments.

Appointing people to positions is the real reason there is such a push to get people to attend AGMs. Societies need people to fill the various roles needed to keep the society going. If you can get lots of people out to your AGM, hopefully some of them will be interested enough to fill your empty positions. For example, the DSS is looking to elect a First Year Rep, a DISP rep, an Environmental Affairs rep, a bunch of committee chairs, and then to put people on a bunch of committees. Some of those positions can be filled by people already in the society, but lots of them require newcomers.

So how do appointments work? It’s usually a little more laid back with smaller societies, but the DSS fills appointments by running mini elections during their AGM. We run through each position we need to fill in the order it is listed on the agenda. The position is described, and then the chairperson (Kasey) asks for any nominations. If you’re interested in the position you should nominate yourself (or if your too shy, ask one of your snack buddies to nominate you).

Once everyone who is interested in the position has been nominated, each person gets a bit of time to introduce themselves, explain why they are interested in the position, and tell us about any experience they might have. And then we’ll take a few moments to ask them some questions to get a feel for if they’re the right fit. If you know ahead of the meeting that you are interested in a position, it might be worth your time to practice you spiel to yourself in the mirror a few times before hand. While this can sound like a big scary public speaking thing, I promise it’s not. The people listening are simply your peers who really just want to get to know you better.

After all the candidates have had a chance to talk, the rest of the group will have a quick chat, and then there will be a closed eyes vote. If you get the position, congratulations! If you don’t get the positions, that’s okay, there will be plenty of other positions or committees you could run for.

Can I still be involved if I don’t want to have to make a speech and get elected for something? Absolutely! Committees are filled by appointment, so all you have to do is put up your hand and say your name. There are lots of committees we are looking for people to fill too, like: the social committee, the first year committee, the equity committee, and the constitutional committee.

Having written out the whole process, it feels like a lot to go through, and you might be asking yourself if it’s worth it (regardless of how good the snacks are). And my response is that yes, in my experience, it has absolutely been worth it. The AGM is the boring part of getting involved with a society, but it also helps to set the tone for what the society wants to do in the year to come, and that can be super exciting. If you get involved with a smaller society (like your departmental society) you’ll have the opportunity to get to know lots of your peers, to help plan awesome events for other students, and to really get to know the ins and outs of your department. If you get involved with a bigger society like the DSS or the DSU you’ll get to work to promote interdisciplinary collaboration, to advocate for science students at the highest levels of the university, and to engage with and learn from a huge variety of students you might not otherwise get to meet. All in all, AGMs are a thing where you come for the snacks, and stay for the people. I wish you all the best in finding the people who are right for you!

As always, if you have questions about any of this, or about anything to do with the DSS feel free to send us an email at dss@dal.ca, or contact me directly at tora.oliphant@dal.ca.

DSU Council Blog 1

July 19th 2017

 

Hey everyone! Welcome to my first ever DSU Council Blog!

 

Council started off with a land acknowledgement and an equity statement from the DSU. The Typographical Union motion was taken off the agenda. This motion (presented and altered during our last council meeting) originally proposed making a solidarity statement with the Typographical Union members (currently on strike from the Chronicle Herald) and providing some financial support to the cause. At the last council meeting we voted to omit the financial component. Since our last council meeting, the provincial government has decided to step in to mediate the path forward for these employees, and the motion was withdrawn.

 

There were a number of appointments this week at council. The Indigenous Students Representative, Ali Barnaby, was appointed to council. She was selected by the Indigenous Students Collective to be their representative. The Agricultural Campus Representative, Kamryn Findlay was also appointed. We then moved onto committee appointments and I’m happy to welcome Aaron Prosper (a Medical Science student) to the Elections Review Committee as the Indigenous Representative and Emma Power (a Chemistry student) to the Executive Review Committee as our non-councillor member. Chad LeClair (Medicine Rep) and Katie Douglas (Women’s Rep, and a Neuroscience student) were also appointed to the Executive Review committee. It’s nice to see so many science students getting involved in these committees!

 

We then talked about the Canada Day Motion, which as some of you may know, was brought forward and voted on at the last council meeting. Since this motion was brought forward and voted on in the same meeting and proposed a change to DSU policy, it did not follow the correct procedure and needed to be voted on again. We had a really great debate about the merits and deficiencies of this motion and Cory Larsen (DSU VPSL) brought forward a proposed amendment to the motion that changed the motion to aim to offer alternative Canada 150 programming in consultation with marginalized groups on campus rather than abstaining from the occasion completely. Please see both the original and amended texts here. We had a good debate about the amended version, and these changes were voted on and approved by council. Before voting on the altered motion we had further discussions. I highly encourage you to watch this portion of the council meeting for yourself because there were excellent points made by councillors and the members in the gallery on both sides that I cannot do justice to here. In the end, I voted for the amended version of the motion because it seemed to be in line with the feedback I had heard from the science students who had reached out to me, and it seemed to be in line with the wishes of DISC (the Dalhousie Indigenous Students Collective). In the end this motion passed. If you have any feedback or questions for me in regards to this or other motions, feel free to contact me anytime (kmaclellan@dal.ca)!

 

Before next council meeting feel free to reach out to me with any feedback for President Dr. Florizone as he seeks another term as president, and if you have anything you would like to see from our Dalhousie Board of Governors. I also have proposed a motion for council that you can see here. We will also be appointing an LGBTQ2+ Rep and Accessibility Rep (both must be BIPOC students) at our next meeting so stay tuned for that!

 

Disclaimer: These are my personal accounts from council meetings, if you would like to see and listen to the full meeting, see our live stream available on the DSU YouTube account.