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Safe space still lacking at Frosh

Executive compensation also discussed at AUS Council meeting

Correction appended October 7, 2014.

The Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) convened on October 1 for its biweekly Legislative Council meeting. Council passed four motions, including motions to hold an election for VP Internal, to approve Financial Management Committee (FMC) members, to amend AUS electoral bylaws, and to hold a fall referendum period. A motion to amend financial bylaws was tabled until the next meeting. This year’s AUS Frosh Report, delivered by the Equity Commission, was also discussed at Council.

Equity Commissioners report back on frosh

AUS Equity Commissioners Isabel Lee and Vareesha Khan presented a joint report on this year’s Frosh. As both commissioners worked with former VP Internal Leila Alfaro throughout the summer to ensure that Frosh would be a safe space for all participants, both Lee and Khan reported a significant change within Frosh culture this past August.

Khan cited the transition of Frosh’s inaugural event from “Pub Crawl” to “Montreal Crawl” as an example of “the shift from drinking to enjoying Montreal, and having a much more social atmosphere.”

While this and other innovations, such as the banning of stripping games, contributed to a much needed improvement in the relationship between campus and residents of the Milton Parc neighbourhood, Lee and Khan noted that obstacles still remain toward realizing the full potential of the Equity Commission.

The Frosh Report indicated that during the second boat cruise, Arts Frosh coordinators kicked Lee, Khan, and AUS President Ava Liu off the boat once it had reached full capacity to make room for Orientation Staff (O-Staff).

“This was also very problematic because there were O-Staff who were too intoxicated to be of any help, and the O-Staff who were eventually put on the boat instead of us voiced that they didn’t mind staying off the boat for us,” stated the Report.

The Report also revealed that, in the bus on their way to Beach Club on Beach Day, Arts Frosh leaders sitting near Lee and Khan “pressured everyone to drink,” “joked about safe space and saying no to drinking,” and “[performed…] very loud and inappropriate chants that included obscene sexual and racist content.”

While Council as a whole had differing views on the most effective ways to change Frosh in the coming years, there was a general sense that this year’s Frosh was a step in the right direction.
“Holistically,” Lee concluded, “we want people to think that fun and safety are not mutually exclusive.”

Executive compensation

In a motion presented to Council, VP Finance Li Xue petitioned to amend existing financial bylaws regarding the compensation of executives working under McGill’s Work Study Program.

AUS executives are currently compensated $10.35 per hour worked, $10.00 of which comes from the Work Study program and $0.35 of which comes from the AUS operating budget, for up to ten hours of work each week.

The proposed amendment, seconded by Liu, would double the hours of possible reimbursement to twenty hours a week, a number which is already allowed by the Work Study program. The motion noted that “members of the AUS Executive consistently dedicate a significantly larger amount of time to their portfolios.”

“The fact is, every time I fill out my timesheet, I get to like Monday and Tuesday, and I’m done my ten hours. So I don’t even fill out […] the weekend, or not even the work I do in the evening. It’s a lot of responsibility,” Xue said.

The prospect of increasing the accessibility of Council to students of all economic backgrounds was met with widespread approval. However, several councillors voiced concerns regarding the effect the motion would have on the AUS operating budget, which currently contributes a nominal percentage toward executive salaries, and on the increased accountability required of executives should their weekly salary be doubled.

While lauding the spirit behind the proposal, Arts Senator Jacob Greenspon noted that, seeing as a successful adoption of the motion would naturally result in “increasing the transfer of funds from Arts students to student execs, I am uncomfortable with it being voted on solely by this Council.”

In light of these concerns, the motion was tabled until the next Council meeting on October 14.

Elections for VP Internal

In response to Alfaro’s recent resignation as VP Internal due to her upcoming absence during the Winter 2015 semester, Alfaro and Liu motioned to hold an election for VP Internal.

The motion was passed with two abstentions. The polling period for the election will begin on October 28 and end on October 30.

Xue and Liu moved to approve FMC members, who were “selected on the basis of their qualifications and drive.” Council approved the motion.

Council also approved a motion to amend the AUS electoral bylaws. The motion was brought forward by Liu, VP Academic Eric Sobat, and Elections AUS Chief Returning Officer Guillaume Bauchu, because “a number of sections in the electoral bylaws lack consistency and transparency.”

A final motion to hold a fall referendum period over the course of November was also passed. Students must gather the signatures of 150 AUS members by October 31 if they wish to file a petition for a referendum question.

A previous version of this article stated that AUS executives are compensated $10.00 per hour. In fact, they are compensated $10.35 per hour, $10.00 of which is contributed by the Work Study program.