TRUSU’s annual report: the highlights

Greater student representation and grants, but less clubs and setbacks in campaigns

At TRUSU’s 2017 annual general meeting, the annual report on the union’s activities was released. Here are the highlights from the 39-page report:

University Governance

Governance Coordinator Alex McLellan, President Brian Chiduuro and Executive Director Nathan Lane at the TRUSU AGM. (Marcela Arévalo/Ω)

This year, the student caucus had 46 students representatives across 51 available positions in university governance. This is an increase of two representatives and four available student positions.

In the 2016 Student Budget Consultation, the union presented 23 recommendations to the university. Of those recommendations, 12 were addressed in various degrees, four were confirmed to not be addressed and seven have yet to be responded to.

TRUSU continued to advocate for the elimination of staff-only parking lots in competition with another proposal by CUPE, the staff union. Students were able to have a motion passed to restructure parking on campus to make lots available to all users and have passes available for specific lots, pricing them either in a premium, general or economy cohort, depending on convenience. The final decision is up to the university’s vice-president of administration and finance, Matt Milovick.

The rollout of the new course evaluation system, advocated for by the student caucus, saw over 14,000 evaluations covering 90 per cent of course sections. However, due to a restriction on valid responses to a 48-hour window made by TRUFA, the faculty’s union, 282 evaluations were invalidated.

Campaigns

TRUSU’s Fund the Future Campaign, which addresses underfunding issues from provincial grants, saw recommendations on operational grants and the implementation of a needs-based student grant system including in the government’s budget report from the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. It also saw CUPE and TRUFA co-sign a community letter advocating for more university funding and hopes to have TRU’s Board of Governors also co-sign the letter.

The union also sent a 20-student delegation to provide input on the municipal budget. During the Fight for 15 Campaign, aimed to persuade the provincial government to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, 300 signatures of support were collected.

Equity

The 2016 Storytellers Gala, which focused on the issue of Aboriginal youth in government care, saw 112 in attendance, many of which later said in a survey that the event was informative about issues with Aboriginal youth in care.

TRUSU also participated in UN Women’s HeForShe campaign on International Women’s Day, raising awareness about violence against women. According to TRUSU the campaign engage with “several hundred participants.” The 2016 Pride Parade had over 250 participants.

Work by the President’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response was completed in August 2016, with 14 recommendations submitted to the president. The task force had four TRUSU student representatives.

The union also advocated for trans-inclusive forms that accommodate students that do not identify as man or woman. However, the movement is restricted by enrolment systems for the Ministry of Advanced Education and TRU’s student data system.

TRUSU approached the career education department to develop co-op offerings for post-baccalaureate and graduate students. Career Education instead partnered with with the deans of students as well as business and economics to offer co-op to post-bacc SOBE students, while committing to expand to other post-bacc and graduate programs.

Services

The Students’ Union Building saw traffic increase in 2016 by 2,204 hour to a total of 9,880 hours for the year. Commons Grounds also continued to break even or make a profit.

Clubs, however, saw a decrease from 98 total clubs to 88, with the number of new clubs decreasing from 26 in 2015 to 19 in 2016.

TRUSU also gave away $59,418.65 more in grants than in 2015, totalling $163,693 in 2016 in conference grants, general event grants, educational event grants and guest lecture grants.

With the extended health and dental plan now open to international students after a referendum, membership increased by 1,573 people to a total of 4,577.

The usage of the union’s food bank service increased from 82 members in 2015 to 105 members in 2016. The Emergency Bursary Program, which provides students with funding in emergencies, saw less usage, giving $6,540 to 11 students as opposed to $9,750 to 15 students in 2015.