The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) held its biweekly board meeting Oct. 6. Three motions were discussed during the session.
Brought forward by the executive committee, the first motion approved by the board of directors was centred around creating a working group tasked with making an outline for community representative positions on the UMSU board of directors.
The executive team believes there should be more structure in the governing documents for community representatives. These guidelines would be created in a collaborative fashion that would consider UMSU’s knowledge of the community representative positions.
Once the group has finished presenting its recommendations to the governance committee, a vote will take place on whether they are accepted or not. If approved, the governing documents will be amended, and the group will subsequently be dissolved.
The second motion centred around the Sept. 8 death of Queen Elizabeth II. UMSU’s position statement book does not have any policies surrounding the British monarchy, so a statement was drafted by the executive committee and proposed to the UMSU board of directors. After discussion among the board members, a vote was held to determine if the statement would be released. Six people voted in favour of the motion, eight voted against and five abstained, meaning the motion was dismissed.
The third motion, moved by UMSU 2SLGBTQIA+ community representative Alex Rana, discussed the formation of a new UMSU Equity, Diversity and Inclusion working group (EDIWG) for this academic year. The purpose of this group would be to provide a safe space for members of designated UMSU communities to discuss equity, diversity and inclusion within UMSU and at the U of M.
EDIWG would be comprised of an UMSU Indigenous representative or designate, UMSU women’s representative or designate, UMSU 2SLGBTQIA+ representative or designate, UMSU international students’ representative or designate, UMSU Black students’ representative or designate and an UMSU accessibility representative or designate.
Any student who identifies as belonging to the Indigenous, Black, women’s, 2SLGBTQIA+, international, accessibility-seeking, mature, part-time or racialized communities could also be part of the working group.
These members would all have voting privileges, while the UMSU president and vice- president advocacy, who would also make up part of the group, would not.
Members would be responsible for identifying ways to improve equity, diversity and inclusion within UMSU and at the U of M for future years. EDIWG would also create a detailed report to be presented to the UMSU board of directors by the end of winter semester 2023, which would address the research conducted.
After a vote, the motion was carried by the UMSU board of directors.
Reports of the Executive
UMSU president Jaron Rykiss read aloud the new UMSU land acknowledgment statement. Created alongside Indigenous students’ representative Ishkode Catcheway, the acknowledgement will be voted on in the next board meeting, where if approved it will officially become a part of UMSU’s governing documents.
Rykiss shared that UMSU has created a statement in support of students affected by the death of Mahsa Amini, as well as a letter intended for affected students to provide to their professors outlining why they would be using the U of M’s student absence policy. UMSU also reached out to the U of M administration requesting fee extensions for students affected by events in Iran. This request was approved.
Rykiss has also worked on getting international students free health care. He drafted a letter to send to U of M president Michael Benarroch, which will request his support for the cause.
The Canadian Federation of Students was also discussed at the meeting. Rykiss had no new updates for the board regarding the federation’s lawsuit against UMSU, but did share that tickets have been purchased to attend a Canadian Federation of Students conference in November. The entire executive team, as well as UMSU international students representative Kunal Rajpal, will attend the conference.
There, UMSU plans to present the results of its upcoming referendum concerning its membership in the Canadian Federation of Students. Rykiss also hopes to propose a motion concerning online voting, which he claims has been ignored by the federation twice before.
Tracy Karuhogo, UMSU vice-president student life, discussed Indigenous Students Month, which takes place in November. Event planning is already under way, and an Indigenous student bursary is also slated to be awarded during the month. UMSU vice-president community engagement Elishia Ratel announced that from Oct. 25 to 28, UMSU will behosting Halloween events.
Victoria Romero, UMSU vice-president advocacy, shared that she is working on making the university a more family-friendly place for students who have children. She will also be researching worker’s wages on campus to ensure that students are being paid a living wage.
UMSU vice-president finance and operations Brook Rivard announced that halal food options are now available at Degrees restaurant. He also noted that a survey will be sent out to students this week, asking them how their experience with the U-Pass and Winnipeg Transit has been so far this year.