By Enobong Ukpong, April 5 2021—
The 78th Student Legislative Council (SLC) held their 35th meeting on March 30. This week’s focus was on the tentative plans of the University of Calgary to privatize the University of Calgary bookstore.
Mickail Hendi, Board of Governors representative, mentioned this discussion in his Board of Governors post-report. There is speculation that the University of Calgary is considering selling the bookstore to Follett, an American company specializing in providing educational services to schools, colleges and public libraries. Hendi is concerned about who would have the rights to the actual space in the MacEwan Student Centre if the bookstore were to be sold.
“My concern is that the university retains ownership of the store, but management is done by this offshore third-party company, and they would get to operate rent-free within the premises,” said Hendi. However, other representatives dismissed his concerns, saying it was too early in the process to discuss the operations. Hendi suspects that the university had planned on following through with this sale, and would not have informed the campus community until the last minute, had this information not been made public.
Frank Finley, Students’ Union (SU) president, elaborated that while no contracts had been signed, he does note with some concern that employees at the bookstore have been notified that this was a possibility, and he doesn’t believe that they would have been told if it was still early in the process. Finley says that he and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) representative, Lorinda Hammond, expressed their concerns, such as student affordability.
“Unfortunately, we have no other information at this time, but we are continuing to have this conversation,” said Finely.
Marley Gilles, vice-president external, presented various policy proposals to the SLC, all of which passed. The first was the introduction of votes of confidence at SU elections, which means that students will give a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote of confidence on uncontested candidates for SU positions, abolishing the practice of acclaimed candidates.
Finley supported this amendment, saying, “This is a more meaningful experience, not only for students who feel that they have power and choice in selecting their candidates in voting yes for them, or no for that matter, but it is also more meaningful for candidates, who have to go and solicit support from students and from their future constituents.”
The second proposal was the use of formal declarations in place of one-time excusal motions for individual absences from SLC and General Faculty Council (GFC) meetings. Gilles argues that this protects SLC and GFC members from having to disclose personal information such as religious practices or family emergencies at SLC and GFC meetings.
The third proposal was the expansion of the hiring criteria for Chief Returning Officers (CROs). With this proposal, CROs no longer need to be undergraduate students. Now, any qualified person can apply for this position, including graduate students or alumni who are affiliated with the university or not. Gilles said this proposal comes from the SU Election staff, who said this requirement was a challenging barrier, as the bulk of the work required is heaviest during midterm season. Moreover, CROs are sometimes friendly or otherwise familiar with election candidates, making their roles as authority figures in elections awkward.
Assad Ali Bik, vice-president student life, expressed his concerns over this policy, stating that outsourcing the role of CROs to non-students doesn’t seem fitting for the Students’ Union. Gilles assured him that undergraduate students can still apply, but they are opening up the hiring pool in case students stop applying due to the large burden this position carries.
The fourth proposal was the removal of the “audit” option for SU executive course enrollment options, meaning that SU executives are now required to be fully enrolled in courses.
Agendas, minutes and upcoming meetings for SLC can be found online.