Student faculty associations may soon have the ability to advocate for interests that contradict Students’ Union (SU) political policies.
The tentative amendment to the SU’s bylaw on student representative associations, discussed in the June 28 meeting of Students’ Council, would require faculties to follow a set of procedures to allow for advocating outside SU interests — procedures could include referendums in the faculty and consultations with the SU. The faculty association would summarize their findings in a report to Students’ Council, which would decide whether to approve of the faculty association’s proposed advocacy efforts.
If passed, the policy would likely be used when an association wants to increase its faculty’s tuition — some associations might want to advocate for tuition increases to bring more revenue into their faculties and strengthen their degree programs. All tuition increases are currently opposed by SU political policy.
Council was divided on whether the new bylaw would help increase the efficacy of student advocacy on campus or hinder the SU’s ability to advocate for students as a whole.
Arts councillor proxy Cody Bondarchuk argued that the government and the university’s administration may not be able to differentiate between the voices of the SU and those of student faculty associations, which could weaken advocacy efforts.
“The inevitable outcome I see from this is the creation of 14 mini Students’ Unions, with centralized power being broken up,” Bondarchuk said.
Medicine and Dentistry councillor Brandon Christensen said the bylaw would simply allow students to advocate more effectively within the university in a way that was permissible by legislation.
“Faculty associations are generally looking in the best interests of the individuals that they represent, especially the organized ones,” Christensen said. “They’re trying to benefit the students they represent.”
The first principles will be debated in Students’ Council’s next session on July 12 at 6 p.m. in the university Council Chamber of Room 2-100 of University Hall. Council attendance is open to all students, who can ask questions during Open Forum.