On September 30th, USC Council commenced for the third meeting for the 2020-2021 academic year. The meeting began with three presentations from the Office of the Ombudsperson, the Indigenous Student Centre, and the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA). In recognition of Orange Shirt Day on September 30th, Zeeta from the Indigenous Student Centre spoke with the Council about the importance of recognizing the impacts of colonialism and shared the ways in which student leaders can take action by listening to Indigenous community members.
Following presentations, Council voted in several elections for Councillors and Students-at-Large to participate in working groups, a trusteeship for Purple Care, and OUSA’s General Assembly delegation.
Council heard from several candidates who ran to represent Western students at the upcoming OUSA General Assembly (GA), which will take place digitally over Zoom this year. Five students were elected: Ziyana Kotadia, Ben Kitching, Eunice Oladejo, Parker Thomlinson, and Matias Wharton. They will be attending the GA alongside: USC President Matt Reesor, VP University Affairs Victoria Barroso, VP External Affairs Mackenzy Metcalfe, AVP External Affairs Akash Jain, and Councillor Zamir Fakirani, who is writing a policy paper for OUSA.
USC VP External Affairs and VP Finance of OUSA, Mackenzy Metcalfe expressed, “The USC is so excited to have elected our OUSA delegates for the Fall 2020 General Assembly! Our delegation will work with students from 8 other student unions across Ontario to develop policies that OUSA will use to lobby the provincial government. We will be reviewing policies related to environmental sustainability, access to post-secondary education and housing, transit and community development.”
During the meeting, Council passed a motion to develop a formal Anti-Sexual and Gender Based Violence Working Group. The working group now comprises 20 members, after four students at large and four Councillors were elected to joining the working group. Councillor Campbell, who helped initiate the group noted, “We are super excited to welcome right new members to the Anti-Sexual and Gender Based Violence Working Group. This group is intended to do research on Western’s new policy regarding sexual and gender-based violence, while conducting feedback from stakeholders around campus and researching policies from other Canadian institutions.”
Notably, a motion forwarded by VP Governance and Finance, Marc St. Pierre on the USC’s fiscal response to COVID-19, passed. This motion enables the USC executive to allocate $600,000 to assist students and USC operations with financial burdens caused by COVID-19. Up to $300,000 from the fund will be used for financial aid for international, low income, and BIPOC students. The remaining $300,000 will be utilized to support executives’ COVID-19 specific initiatives and support operations, such as the Wave and The Spoke. Consultations with student groups will take place throughout the month of October and a specific plan will be presented to Council at the October meeting.
The USC Executive also put forward its executive road map for the year, which was unanimously passed by Council. President Matt Reesor presented the five pillars which include:
- Improving Student Life
- Increasing Student Engagement
- Bolstering Student Support
- Investing in Student Development
- Amplifying Student Voices