Council 6 Recap: Councillors address sustainability, financial oversight, and City of London budget priorities
This Wednesday, USC Councillors gathered for the sixth regular meeting of council for the 2019-2020 academic year.
The meeting began with presentations from twelve students seeking to represent Western’s delegation at the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance’s (OUSA) Spring General Assembly. Iman Berry, Kierstin Williams, Mark Garabedian, Matthew Chasmar, Nikol Kamenetsky, and Teo Marginean were selected to attend the conference, which will be hosted by Western this March.
This will be the first time Western has hosted a General Assembly since November 2016, but familiar topics will be up for discussion. The assembly will debate OUSA’s policy stance on International Students, Rural & Northern Students, and Sexual Violence Prevention & Response. Interested students are encouraged to reach out to Vice President Cat Dunne at email@example.com with any feedback on the three papers.
The Council also selected representatives for the executive hiring committees, including the Vice President Student Support and Programming, the Vice President Governance and Finance, and the Vice President Communications and Public Affairs. Councillors Bahar Enterazi, Matthew Chasmar, and Kyra Balogh were ultimately chosen for the respective positions.
“We are committed to representing student voices, particularly when it comes to selecting our new executives. I am looking forward to seeing the progress that these hiring panels will make over the next month, with applications and interviews just around the corner,” remarked Secretary-Treasurer Declan Hodgins.
Students at large will also be selected for the hiring panels at the Student Experience Standing Committee meeting in two weeks’ time.
Sustainability initiatives passed by Council
Recognizing the existing USC Sustainability Policy had become obsolete and was largely unused by the organization, Council tasked the Sustainability Working Group with creating a new policy before the end of the academic year. This policy will outline specific actions the USC can take to combat climate change and ensure environmentally friendly practices are in place, while also clarifying the organization’s advocacy position on sustainability issues.
“The Sustainability Working Group is currently pitching some preliminary ideas ahead of our first official meeting. We are excited about the passing of Motion 9, which provides a clear direction to the group regarding actionable sustainability initiatives that can be implemented across campus,” said Councillor Yee, a member of the working group.
In the same vein, the Council unanimously passed a motion to approve the Sustainability Checklist, which provides guidelines to on-campus programmers affiliated with the USC, faculty councils, and ratified clubs. This checklist encourages student leaders to ensure that programming is as eco-friendly as possible by reducing the consumption of energy and animal products and creation of waste.
Councillor Fakirani, who moved the motion, explained that the checklist’s goal is to empower Western’s student leaders to be conscious of sustainability through their regular programming, regardless of the programming’s connection to sustainability issues or advocacy.
“If there is anything I learned throughout my time at the USC, it is that our students are fervent advocates for sustainability on campus,” said Farkirani.
Council endorses executive’s advocacy position on City of London budget
With City of London budget deliberations well underway, Vice President Cat Dunne sought the endorsement of Council of the executive’s advocacy related to the budget. The City is currently considering 30 business cases as a part of their long-term budgeting process.
The following business cases were proposed by Dunne and supported by Council:
- 1: 60% Waste Diversion Action Plan
- 5A: Climate Emergency Declaration – Develop Action Plan
- 5B: Climate Emergency Declaration – Implementation
- 23: Street Light Local Improvement
- 25: Winter Maintenance Program Support
“These business cases were selected based on student feedback the USC has collected over the past few years, priorities our executive team identified in the summer through our Executive Roadmap, and Council’s position on issues related to transit, sustainability, gender-based violence, and student safety,” said Dunne. “Receiving Council’s endorsement provides further legitimacy of our asks when we bring them to the London City Council.”
Dunne is presenting to London City Council Thursday afternoon and will continue to advocate on the priorities during Local Advocacy Week in February.
Financial bylaw approved
Finally, Bylaw 4, “Financial”, was passed unanimously by council. The newest USC bylaw creates a standalone governing document addressing student fees, budgeting and expenditures, financial transparency, and officers of the corporation. The bylaw aims to increase transparency of the USC’s financial processes and formally enshrine regular practices such as publishing annual audited financial statements on the organization’s website. Hodgins will present the 2020 budget to Council at a special meeting of council in February.
Regular USC Council meetings are held the final Wednesday of every month, in the UCC Community Room at 7:00pm. Meetings are open to students, staff, and the community.