News briefs – Feb. 6, 2013

Wayne Cardinal, Contributor Ω

Idle No More and Common Causes hold information session

Idle No More and Common Causes, a new umbrella group comprising other social causes, held an information session at the Smorgasbord Deli in downtown Kamloops between 6 and 8 p.m. on Jan. 28’s Global Day of Action.

Approximately 50 people attended the joint information session, which was chaired by Anita Strong and Michelle Good.  Some of the topics discussed were omnibus bill C-45, the Navigation Protection Act, the aims of Idle No More, the goals of Common Causes, the need for a free press and the importance of the democratic process.

A flash mob was held at the Interior Savings Centre during the Blazers Aboriginal Night at the same time drawing about 30 to 40 people according to Staff Sgt. Doug Aird from the T’Kumlups rural detachment.

Idle No More and Common Causes are planning a speaker’s series to begin on March 22, United Nations’ World Water Day.  More information will be available at Idle No More Kamloops’ Facebook page and

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

Student senator elections to become more complex

The process to elect student senators is about to become more complex.

In the past, four student senators have been elected by students online in the fall of each year to serve a term starting in January and ending in December. However, in last fall’s elections only two students ran.

Those two students, Leif Douglass and Stephen Eaglestone, were acclaimed while two other senators elected last year, Dylan Robinson and Chrystie Stewart, will continue to serve until August.

To replace those senators in September, there will be another election held online within this semester. Those two senators will then serve until August 2014. The other two senators will be elected using the traditional timeline.

Health and dental bugs require $1,000 in tech support

The students union had to spend an extra $1,000 in tech support fees from its health and dental plan fund, TRUSU executive director Nathan Lane told council on Jan. 29.

At the beginning of the academic year, TRUSU used new software to manage the health and dental plan. The software integrates the plan with students myTRU accounts to make opting in and out more straightforward. In October, the new system crashed and didn’t generate the correct files, leaving students’ accounts inactive. The problem is now fixed.

Lane told council the extra money wouldn’t make much of a difference to the plan’s fund. For the 2012-2013 year, the student union budgeted $556,500 on the plan’s expenses.

Entrance scholarship policy changes emphasize leadership

TRU’s senate has approved changes to its entrance scholarship policy to emphasize the recipient’s leadership ability as well as academics.

The policy, approved at its Jan. 28 meeting, adds at least 10 leadership entrance scholarships of $3,500 for those students that combined academic achievement with community service.

It also changes the wording of the ambassador entrance scholarships, which covers all tuition and fees for four years for at least six recipients, so that leadership is mentioned first. It was this change that caused some concern for some senators.

“We really want to give this to the very best, who really want to keep it,” said Kevin O’Neil, a faculty of science senator.

Gordon Down, the manager of the financial aid and awards department, said the recipients normally have grades in the high-80 and low-90 per cent range.

“We’ve traditionally balanced excellence in academics with excellence in leadership and extra-curricular activities,” he said.

Waitlists not a major problem – review

A review of the number of students on a waitlist ordered by the senate concludes the number of students waiting for courses is not a major issue.

“It’s not an overwhelming problem,” said Tom Dickinson, dean of science and one of the persons assigned to the review.

The faculty of arts saw 103 students on a waitlist, followed by the faculty of human, social and educational development at 59 and the faculty of science at 51.

Dickinson told the senate most of the students on a waitlist were trying to get into a course with a particular professor or time; or registering of first-year courses that weren’t necessarily requirements.

An example was the 17 students waiting to get into an astronomy course or the 11 waiting for music, said Christine Adam, dean of students who was also involved in the review. Those courses aren’t needed to graduate in any program.