The King’s Students’ Union has voted to “announce its dissent” from the King’s Board of Governors’ approval of a new, $180 athletics fee, after seventy per cent of voters in a KSU referendum voted against the new fee.
Council also voted to empower its executive to take “appropriate action” in that regard.
The motion came after an hour and 45 minutes of in-camera discussion on Sunday afternoon. Council went in-camera immediately after the athletics fee discussion came up.
After an hour and a half of in-camera discussion, reporters were briefly allowed back in, and financial vice-president Quinn Harrington made a motion to have the KSU executive write a press release and organize “actions,” including a “quad aerobics” campaign and a letter writing campaign, in response to the board’s decision.
Arts representative Amelia Wilding said she wouldn’t vote for the motion because there hadn’t been enough discussion. Anna Dubinski, one of the KSU representatives on the board of governors, said she didn’t think specific actions needed to be in the motion.
Asher Goldstein said they had not adequately discussed what the executive’s mandate would be.
Council went briefly back in-camera and, when they came out, voted to table Harrington’s motion indefinitely.
The new motion was made by Goldstein, and was unanimously passed, except for Stephanie Duchon, who abstained.
When asked why council went in-camera, president Nick Stark said it was “common practice when discussing strategy,” and referred to David Etherington’s (@OpinionDavid) Tweet from during the in camera session: “Strategy sessions are held in camera so Council can speak frankly and in confidence about their plans.” Etherington is not on the KSU council and was not present for the in-camera discussions.
“It’s a free country”
– King’s president George Cooper
A media release was sent out early Monday morning and a letter to students included in Monday’s This Week At King’s (TWAK) email. The TWAK letter, signed by the KSU executive, said council went in-camera so “debate would not be inhibited by the potential for the discussion to affect the Union’s relationship with the University.”
Monday morning’s media release advertised a protest in the quad at 4 p.m. The protest involved 80s-style aerobics led by Noah White, and it drew about 15 participants, including KSU council members, and a group of spectators. Stephanie Duchon, who abstained from the vote, stood at the back for a while before leaving. President Cooper joined in for a few minutes.
“It’s a free country,” he said, about the recent decision by the KSU. He says decisions about student fees are never easy, but that the Board is looking decades into the future.
Liam Crouse, a first year student, participated in Monday’s protest.
“Something is being done against the student will,” he said. He said King’s told new students “we weren’t clients, we were members,” a sentiment he feels has been betrayed.
Dubinski said the fee was approved by a “strong majority,” but the exact vote breakdown won’t be public until the minutes are approved at the next Board of Governors meeting.
Dubinski said faculty members of the board seemed to be “aware of the weight” of voting against a student majority. She says some administrators have expressed interest in following up with questions raised at last Monday’s town hall, including about improvements to King’s own gym and facilities.
Rachel Ward and Ben Harrison’s commentary on Sunday’s council meeting
Michaela Sam, the KSU’s communications vice-president, said 48 per cent of voters in the referendum were first year students, 24 per cent were in second year, 13 per cent in third, and 14 per cent in fourth.
The fee will not come into effect until the facility is built, probably in 2015. It will give King’s students full access to the new facility, with access to other facilities unchanged. There will be one King’s student representative on the facility’s steering committee.
Dalhousie’s board of governors approved an identical fee in 2010.