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AUS councillors receive equity training

Measures to increase executives’ accountability adopted at Council meeting

On October 15, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council addressed the issue of equity within student life and government. Council was introduced to the Liaison Officer (Harm Reduction) Bianca Tétrault and received equity training from the Social Equity and Diversity Education office (SEDE). Council also instituted additional accountability measures for AUS executives.

Equity training, update on consent campaign

Tétrault was invited by AUS VP External Lola Baraldi to update Council on various events that she will be involved with organizing this year.

As part of her work on campus to raise awareness of consent and sexual assault, Tétrault has been working with the Office of the Dean of Students on the educational campaign #ConsentMcGill. The event takes place this week, and features information booths at the Y-intersection, as well as educational workshops at both the downtown and Macdonald campuses.

“We’re really looking forward for everyone to come out, to get involved, to raise awareness around consent in regards to sexual activities, and in our day-to-day lives,” said Tétrault.

Recognizing that positive change within the Arts student body requires precedent from within its governing body, Council also received equity training from two employees of SEDE.

Equity Educational Advisor (Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity) Sarah Malik and Equity Educational Advisor (LGBTTQ) Tynan Jarrett led Council members in a workshop discussion on the nature of power dynamics and the ways in which the negative aspects of these dynamics can be reduced.

Focusing on examples regarding the role of Legislative Council, Malik and Jarrett examined the equity considerations required to appropriately plan events, identify aggression, and address oppression.

Councillors also discussed the nature of terminology such as ‘inclusion,’ ‘empowerment,’ and ‘safe(r) space.’

In addition, councillors spoke positively of the equity training given during Arts Frosh, noting its crucial contribution to this year’s relative success. AUS VP
Communications Max Drabkin also cited the popularity of this year’s Frosh’s ‘after movie,’ which garnered 8,000 views in its first 24 hours on YouTube and 17,000 by mid-October, as further evidence of Frosh’s success.

“We couldn’t be more happy with it,” Drabkin told Council. “The feedback we’ve been receiving is overwhelmingly positive, and it’s wonderful to see it doing so well.”

Financial bylaws motion withdrawn, other motions passed

Proposed amendments to AUS’s financial bylaws saw mixed opinions. The motion, which had been tabled at a previous meeting, sought to double the number of hours worked that can be compensated for work-study-eligible executives from ten hours per week to twenty in order to increase the positions’ accessibility. At the previous meeting, concerns were expressed about executives voting on a motion concerning their own pay, as well as about the changes in accountability that could result from higher pay.

Carribean and Latin American Studies & Hispanic Studies Association (CLASHSA) representative Vincent Simboli voiced his discomfort with voting for a motion in a room surrounded by the executives who would be affected by the motion.

“I do not feel comfortable voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right now in this room because it is very difficult to look any exec in the eye while they’re here and say no, I do not want you to [increase your pay].”

“I agree with CLASHSA representative [Simboli], we shouldn’t decide on this here,” said Arts senator Kareem Ibrahim.

The motion failed to gain sufficient support and was withdrawn by AUS President Ava Liu.

Council also saw the approval by councillors of a new motion instituting additional accountability measures for AUS executives. The motion requires the executives to make their timetables public and provides means to solicit feedback from constituents, such as a formal complaint process and a once-per-semester feedback survey.

Motions to adopt the updated constitution of CLASHSA, and a motion to approve Narmada Gunawardana and Christina Liu as AUS Deputy Returning Officers, who assist in the running of AUS Elections, were passed with nearly unanimous support from Council.