The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) General Council (GC) voted to fund three Science Undergraduate Research Awards (SURAs) at its February 18 meeting. The SURAs, managed by the Office of Undergraduate Research, are awarded to students on the basis of academic merit to fund 16 weeks of full-time research during the summer.
“It’s an already established award where donors, potentially like ourselves, would contribute $2,800 toward an award, and then whoever the professor is who takes the student will match it,” explained VP Communications May Yin-Liao.
“The money is not going anywhere if we don’t use it.”
Yin-Liao noted that international students are eligible for SURAs, as opposed to the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards, which are only available to Canadian residents.
“We do technically fund a significant number of research positions under work study, but obviously not everyone qualifies for work study, whereas […] anyone in the Faculty of Science and [in] Arts and Science can apply for [a SURA], so that’s more accessible to all of our constituents,” said Yin-Liao.
A total of $8,400 will be allocated for the SURAs for Summer 2015, coming directly from SUS’s operating budget. Yin-Liao indicated that she hopes to fund the awards through “more sustainable sources, such as external sponsors” in future years.
Answering a question on how the recipients of the awards will be determined, Yin-Liao said that the awards will be allocated randomly to three of the 19 departments in SUS, and the recipient of the award will be chosen by the department.
Bachelor of Arts and Sciences Integrative Council (BASiC) President Matthew Satterthwaite raised concerns over the amount of funding.
“I’m just worried about the $8,400 – that seems like a lot of money coming out of student fees, and I’m not sure [these awards] that can benefit three students are the best use of that much money,” he said.
Yin-Liao responded that, following the recent increase in the SUS base fee, there was money allocated specifically for new initiatives such as this one.
“The money is not going anywhere if we don’t use it,” she said.
The motion passed with one abstention.
Tuition deregulation was also discussed at the GC. Representative to the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) Zacheriah Houston told councillors that all three representatives to SSMU had voted against the motion to oppose tuition deregulation that passed at the last SSMU Council.
Houston said that he voted in this way because, although there was no time for proper consultation, a majority of the forty Science students he consulted were opposed to the motion.