By Gayathri Peringod, February 5 2020—
The Board of Governors’ elected student representative admitted to a lack of student consultation to inform her vote regarding tuition and fee increases in a January’s Students’ Legislative Council meeting.
Meeting minutes reveal SLC pressing BOG rep Ananya Ayachit to continue consultations and to ultimately keep SLC apprised of information to assist the elected officials in their advocacy.
Ayachit admitted in a Jan. 7 SLC meeting that during “informal talks with a few students” about the meal plan changes, she learned that “they felt indifferent” but that she was unable to consult with more students due to the “short timeframe between her becoming aware of the changes and the current SLC meeting.”
When asked about her student consultation on proposed tuition increases, Ayachit stated that she “did not pursue further student consultation because there had not been any changes to the proposed tuition increases.”
During the meeting, Ayachit stated that she has “an obligation to both the university and the student body.”
In response to Ayachit’s admission of limited student consultation, Faculty of Science representative Manpreet Sahota “reminded her about her role to represent the interest of the student body, not just the university’s interest.”
The minutes show that SLC had not been completely apprised of all proposed changes to tuition on Jan. 7, three days prior to the Jan. 10 BOG meeting that passed the changes.
Ayachit’s report to SLC revealed a discrepancy between increases she was aware of and increases the SU was aware of. Ayachit’s report had statements on tuition increases up to the Winter 2023 term while the SU Executives were only aware of increases for the 2020–2021 term. Vice-president external Sadiya Nazir remarked that while she and SU president Jessica Revington sit on the Tuition and Fees Consultation Committee (TFCC), “a lot of the pieces in Ayachit’s report were not presented in any of the TFCC meetings which occurred in December.”
Nazir stated that she felt it was “difficult for Revington to be a voice for students when meaningful consultation with students has not occurred due to the late appearance of the figures to the SU.”
Elected members of the SU are asked to represent their electors and the SU when attending meetings held by governing bodies of the university, according to the SLC Code of Conduct. They are also asked to represent students when making financial decisions within their role. While Ayachit is not technically a member of the SU, her role is one of only three student positions on the board that represent the student body and voice student concerns.
At the Jan. 14 SLC meeting, Sahota asked Ayachit for clarification on how she voted at the BOG meeting.
Meeting minutes state that “Ayachit answered that she voted in favour of the residence fee changes and the meal plan fee changes, and against parking fee changes.”
While Ayachit ultimately voted against a tuition increase, she had previously declined to provide SLC information regarding her vote in advance.
Ayachit commented that she “wanted to keep her mind open rather than tying herself to a decision, and wait for the discussion at the Board of Governors meeting.”
Sahota asked Ayachit for her strategy regarding student consultation going forward to which Ayachit responded that she intended to continue her ” ‘Grassroots Tour’ to touch base with faculty associations across campus.”
Ayachit currently serves on the U of C’s Board of Governors as a student representative until April 30. She declined to provide comment on the record.