This year has been an eventful one for Jade Calver, the president of the biggest faculty association at McGill. This year the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) had its first General Assembly (GA), and is about to vote on a student strike.
Calver has been involved with AUS for four years, and was the VP Academic before becoming president. But her year as a president has been an important one for the Society.
Calver pointed to the political climate on campus this year, and the role AUS has played.
According to Calver, AUS has been “trying to address both students’ hurt as a result of what has happened, especially with police presence on campus, as well as polarization amongst students within the faculty with regard to different issues.”
Calver described how the increased political activities on campus have had an impact on student involvement.
“This is a time when we have seen the most student involvement ever in the AUS… It’s the most amazing thing to see students engaged in political life,” said Calver.
In spite of this political climate, the AUS did not take an official stance on the MUNACA strike that took place last semester.
According to Calver, “It was difficult because it came at the beginning of the year, and [the AUS] didn’t, at the Legislative Council, have enough information to take a stance about it. I think as it progressed further into the year, it was an issue for us once we began to see how it was affecting Arts students.”
Calver declined to comment on the Society’s joint statement with other faculty association presidents about the #6party occupation.
Another important item on the AUS agenda this year has been Orientation Week, previously known as Frosh. After facing deficits in past years, the event made a profit this year, despite a $12,000 theft.
Calver recommended a number of improvements to the event in years to come, including a reduction in price, and a switch to making daytime campus activities alcohol-free.
One of the biggest changes in AUS this year was the implementation of the General Assembly. Calver told The Daily that it is still “a work in progress,” as it has not been done in the past.
“I think that now there has been a push for more regular GAs, so I’ll be putting forward a question to students in the next GA,” she said.
In reference to the GA on January 31, Calver explained that, “like any GA or any council, we did have some positive and negative feedback. I believe that it was because of the personal views of the students who were there, but we will try our best for the next GA.”
Calver discussed the resignation of two of the three Arts representatives to SSMU, Micha Stettin and Jamie Burnett.
“I think with regards to [Stettin], it was a personal issue for him, that he didn’t agree with the policies or ideologies of the SSMU or the AUS.”
“With regards to Jamie, it was personal on another level, in that he didn’t fulfil the requirements for the position,” said Calver.
Calver told The Daily that she has been pleased with the overall performance of the other AUS executives.
“They have done so much with their portfolios… I’m proud of all of them,” she said.
According to Calver, financial difficulties were among the biggest setbacks for AUS this year. She referred to the lack of audits and tax returns produced in previous years as particularly challenging.
Another impending issue for the AUS is the possibility of a student strike. Calver said that she will try to respect students’ rights.
“Ultimately students will vote whether they are in favour. I think our role in it is to protect students’ rights, whether it be their right to attend class, their right to miss class because of the strike, or their right to protest on campus,” said Calver.