Summer is over and the TRU student government is back at work. Official stands on student issues, a new campaign to raise awareness of university underfunding and recruitment for the student caucus were discussed at the first TRUSU board of directors meeting on Sept. 9.
New stance on student issues
Nine new issues policies had TRUSU taking a stand on topics from student housing to curriculum content. In a show of unity, the board unanimously approved all nine points. These points included statements against regulation of student activity off-campus, discrimination of students in the housing market and flat tuition fees.
“I think some of the new issues policies we adopted today are really great,” TRUSU president Dylan Robinson said.
In particular, Robinson pointed to the union’s new stance on curriculums, which encourages course content that is more relatable to groups like women, ethnic groups, LGBTQ students and people with disabilities.
“Diversity is something that institutions often have represented in their employees, in their student make-up and in their staff and in their faculty,” Robinson said. “But often times the curriculum of institutions doesn’t really reflect that diversity … I think having a strong organizational stand that our diverse campus community should be reflected in the curriculums that are taught here is really important.”
TRUSU’s official stance on tuition, financial assistance and university governance also got an overhaul. Amended policies now oppose tuition fees on internships, encourage more flexible tuition payment, state that food and other necessities should be included when calculating financial aid and argue that the minutes of faculty councils and similar organizations should be public knowledge.
Robinson later admitted that some of the new policies only reflect TRUSU’s particular stance and have no direct action associated with them.
“There’s only so much work you can do day-to-day, and we’re hoping that maybe our successors down the line will be able to tackle those issues as they come up,” Robinson said.
Students short on voice
The TRU student caucus is short over 40 members, the board heard. Only about 10 of the 55 positions have been filled so far, with the first official meeting coming up Oct. 1. Robinson admitted that the number of student representatives still needed was high, and encouraged all board members to recruit anyone who might be interested.
According to TRUSU, the student caucus meets once a month and is meant to represent student interests in university governing decisions. Members of the caucus represent bodies such as the board of governors, university senate, faculty councils and advisory committees. Last year, they tackled issues like parking, study spaces on campus and the admission process to bodies like the senate.
Applications are being accepted until Sept. 19 on the TRUSU website.
Fund the Future
TRUSU external vice-president, Leif Douglass, gave an update on Fund the Future, the union’s new awareness campaign on university underfunding. The campaign was launched earlier in September, with appearances at start-of-year events such as the Back-to-School BBQ. Douglass reported that the campaign was well-received, but admitted that the focus is mostly on education rather than action at this point.
The campaign is based on research done by TRUSU, which compared post-secondary institutions across B.C. in terms of services offered and per student funding. According to Douglass, the study found that TRU was receiving about $1,300 less per student from the province than the average post-secondary institution.
Anyone wanting more information on these points or other TRUSU activities can visit trusu.ca.