News  AUS to support Indigenous Access McGill

Council approves referendum questions

In its first meeting of the year, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Council discussed five motions, all of which were adopted, and approved two referendum questions.

Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens presented different ways he envisioned the student experience with an emphasis on improving how information is given to students during pre-arrival, and emphasizing health on campus as part of a “healthy campus” initiative.

After his presentation Dyens answered questions from the councillors. AUS VP External Kareem Ibrahim raised a question about the hiring of a full-time coordinator in response to the sexual assault incident that took place in September 2011.

Dyens said that his office was in the process of looking for someone and that the interviewing process would start soon.

One of the motions that adopted by Council involved Indigenous Access McGill (IAM), a service that is run primarily out of the School of Social Work. Its mandate includes providing mentorship, tutoring, and advising services, specifically to address the needs of Indigenous students.

As it stands now, IAM relies on soft funding through grants to continue its operations.

In an interview with The Daily, Arts Senator Claire Stewart-Kanigan said, “The last grant that they had was from the Counselling Foundation. It was for a period of 3 years, and when they applied for a renewal, the Foundation didn’t accept the proposal this time.”

“Generally with these kinds of programs at McGill, they’ll be largely dependent on grant funding at the beginning, as kind of a trial period. And it seems fair, given that they’re successful, that the question we are asking is why isn’t the University taking on the funding?” Stewart-Kanigan continued.

According to AUS VP Academic Jacob Greenspon, a reason why IAM has not been institutionalized and funded directly by McGill could be because it has kept a very low-profile.

Adopted unanimously, the motion asks for the AUS to call on the Faculty of Arts and the University to collaboratively work toward the eventual institutionalization of IAM and support the continued funding of it.

The other motions adopted were operational, and they included approving new members for the Arts Student Employment Fund Committee and Arts Computer Lab Fund Committee and minor changes to the AUS operational budget.

The council also approved two questions for the upcoming referendum period. One question asked if an Arts Community Engagement Committee representative should sit at the council meetings, while the other involved the accessibility of AUS executive member positions and Work Study payment for those executives in financial need.

If the referendum question passes, members of the AUS Executive Committee who demonstrate financial need in accordance with McGill Work Study eligibility criteria shall be eligible for remuneration for their tenure on the AUS Executive Committee through the AUS Work Study Program.

“The introduction of payment in any form will affect AUS governance in some aspects, but this is a positive first step in tackling the issue of the ‘trilemma’ of AUS involvement, being full-time students, and needing to work if in financial need,” said AUS President Justin Fletcher, in an email to The Daily.

“I hope this referendum question sparks a larger conversation about the accessibility of involvement on campus in general and encourages us to consider not just financial accessibility but additional barriers that may prevent students from getting involved in campus life.”