News | AUS Council talks student engagement

Fortier visits, asks for more student input

Correction appended October 7, 2013.

The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) held their bi-weekly Legislative Council meeting last Wednesday to discuss various issues, including opening the Arts Lounge to non-AUS groups and the proposed creation of a 3rd floor reception area in the Leacock building.

Fortier visits AUS Council 

Principal Suzanne Fortier was also present at the meeting and spoke about the relationship between administrators and students.

“I didn’t come here to be an administrator, sitting in a corner there, and enjoying my wonderful office. […] I want to be a part of this community, and I want [to] do good work for this community, and I think my attitude and my beliefs are shared by my colleagues,” said Fortier during the meeting.

However some of the councillors, including AUS President Justin Fletcher and Arts Senator Claire Stewart-Kanigan, later raised their concerns about the physical disconnect between the James Administration building and the overall student body.

“As the James Administration building does not provide any direct services for students […] spatial issues foster a natural disconnect between administration and students,” Fletcher said later in an e-mail to The Daily.

During Council, Fortier also emphasized the need for communication between the administration and students, telling the Council to “tell us” when issues arise. “There are formal avenues and less formal. It’s important that we can talk to each other at an informal level, and be able to sort out why we see things differently,” Fortier added.

Stewart-Kanigan said later in an interview with The Daily, “I think that it is inappropriate to put the onus as much on students perhaps as she [did].”

However, Stewart-Kanigan noted, “It’s the first few weeks of her principalship. She has taken some actions that have definitely challenged the way McGill has operated in the past in terms of accountability.”

Student space allocation discussed  

Another business item on the meeting agenda was a motion to allow access to the Arts Lounge for non-AUS organizations.

“I know that [SSMU gets] many, many groups looking for bookings and that they only have one room that’s similar to the Arts Lounge (the Club Lounge) so this offers another room and one that’s different than what SSMU offers,” said VP Internal Enbal Singer, who moved the motion, in an e-mail to The Daily.

The motion was passed and the Arts Lounge will now be available for the use of non-AUS groups for a fee of $25, while AUS-affiliated clubs will continue to be able to book the Arts Lounge without paying. The money will be put into the AUS budget for lounge maintenance.

Council also discussed the creation of a 3rd floor reception area in Leacock, though according to a straw poll, Council was not in favour. No formal motion was passed.

“Based on the discussion, Council’s sentiments were largely that a third floor reception area is unnecessary given current staffing constraints and that staff knowledgeable about programs should remain within departments,” President Fletcher noted in an e-mail to The Daily.

“Furthermore, it was the sentiment in the room that our time and energy would be better spent advocating for more student spaces in Leacock,” Fletcher continued.

“The onus is on us as students to approach our department chairs and make sure the space is allocated for us as students; [it’s a] you snooze, you lose kind of thing.”

An earlier version of this article stated that Council discussed the proposed restructuring of the Leacock building, when Council in fact discussed the creation of a 3rd floor reception area in Leacock. The Daily regrets the error.