The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) issued a statement seeking an apology from the SSMU Executive during last Thursday’s SSMU Legislative Council, following the open letter that SSMU released regarding last Tuesday’s AUS General Assembly (GA).
In the letter, SSMU executives expressed disappointment concerning the “poor communication, organization and attitude,” of the AUS in their handling of the GA.
Isabelle Bi, Arts representative to SSMU, spoke to Council on behalf of AUS President Jade Calver and the other Arts representatives.
“The act of issuing a public letter rather than respectfully meeting in private with the AUS executive is insulting and demonstrates the SSMU executives’ lack of professionalism and sets a dangerous precedent,” said Bi.
“I would like to clarify that the AUS has never been and will never be subordinate to the SSMU,” she added.
The statement also accused SSMU VP Clubs and Services Carol Fraser of “hindering the logistics of the event.”
“She failed to provide details beforehand, she failed to reply to emails, and she worked with third party interest groups instead of the Faculty,” said Bi.
Fraser responded to the accusations by stating she had been in contact with members of the AUS Executive Committee about logistic overflow of rooms prior to and on the day of the event.
“I made it very clear that there were other room bookings already made in the building, and there was no other overflow space available in the building,” said Fraser.
Fraser further explained that part of SSMU’s discontent came “from [the AUS] kicking out groups like the [Muslim Student Association] and Mini Courses out of the space they were going to use without consulting me first…that really crossed the line and it had to be addressed.”
Fraser also clarified that AUS’ Nuit Blanche event – scheduled for March 22 – has not been cancelled.
“We’re not cancelling the event, rather, we just want to make sure it goes smoothly, so we requested a plan of the event, which was already in the works with the security supervisor,” said Fraser.
SSMU President Maggie Knight stated that the letter does not “typify” the type of relation that the SSMU wishes to have with any faculty association, or that it has had this year.
Knight also told Council that the letter seeks to protect the clubs and services that use the building.
“The way TVM was treated was extremely disrespectful, and given that there had been discouragement from TVM livestreaming, and then they were later relied on to provide some sort of connection between the rooms and treated as tech support – it is fundamentally distressing and it is not indicative of the relations students would like to have at all,” said Knight.
Ellie Marshall, president of TVM, told Council that TVM felt “extremely disappointed and taken advantage of” by AUS during the GA.
“We were subject to verbal reprimands of our services and at one point I was actually pushed in Leacock 132 for trying to fix the livestream,” said Marshall.
Marshall also expressed gratitude towards SSMU for addressing the issue.
“Our student services were mistreated for the AUS’ benefit,” she said. “I am a member of the AUS. I went there to vote, so were seven other members of TVM who sacrificed their GA experience to make sure everything worked out.”
Calver also spoke to Council and expressed that AUS and SSMU should continue to have the good relationships they have had this year.
“I wish the SSMU Executive had taken time to reflect before issuing a public statement without consulting the AUS Executive. However, I do not wish to cause further tensions between these two bodies,” said Calver.
Calver also thanked TVM and apologized to them on behalf of AUS.
Following the discussion, a motion was passed to commit the issue to the SSMU Executive Committee, which will meet later next week.
Another motion was passed to run an exceptional referendum period from April 10 to April 16.
Council also voted to have a referendum question regarding online voting for General Assemblies. This question seeks to implement online ratification of decisions made in SSMU GAs.