President’s message – Feb. 16, 2012

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I would like to start this message by first thanking everyone who attended and participated in our annual general meeting. It is no small act for a student to take several hours out of their busy day to attend a gathering with the intent of discussion, debate, and democratic participation.

At its very core, an annual general meeting is simply an assembly of grassroots members coming together to make collective decisions. Considering all the other noises of everyday life – studying, classes, work, social activities – it was encouraging to see so many people contribute to their students’ union and choose to be involved.    At the annual general meeting, a number of important decisions were made. I know the Carillon will do an excellent job of providing a broad and accurate portrayal of all that day’s decisions, but I would still like to highlight a couple of them and explain how they will affect the students’ union.

First of all, students voted overwhelmingly to officially endorse a student-driven initiative to stop on-campus systemic racism. The initiative, which includes a vigorous petitioning campaign, aims to provide students with a more holistic education by making an indigenous studies course mandatory for all degrees. As president, I take my marching orders directly from students – and when you tell the students’ union to support the work of the aforementioned initiative, I have to listen. To that end, I will take the mandate given to us by students at the annual general meeting and start the processes required to have an academic change to programs considered by the university. Together, I know we can make our common dream of ending systemic racism even closer to reality by fully supporting the initiative endorsed by students.

Secondly, students soundly supported a motion calling on the University of Regina board of governors to hold open and transparent meetings. Currently, the board of governors conducts its business behind closed and, as of late, locked doors. As the highest decision-making body at the University of Regina, students have a vested interest in knowing exactly what is being said at board meetings. More than that, since students pay this university’s bills, they have a right to know how their president votes at board meetings, how their chancellor votes, how I vote – how every single member of that board votes.

To provide an example of how a transparent meeting is run, we even invited President Vianne Timmons to give an address at the opening of our annual general meeting – which she was kind enough to do. Students know how to operate transparently. We certainly did not do what the board of governors did at its last meeting, which was lock students out and escort board members in with security. With this new directive from students, we will take further action to get the board of governors to be accountable and hold open, public meetings.

Finally, students made a decision that was long overdue. For the first time in history, our constitution now includes seats on our board of directors for the LGBTQ community, those who identify as differently-abled, students who consider themselves Francophone, as well as a liaison to the Canadian Federation of Students. Students identified the need for more diversity and accountability on our board of directors and acted appropriately. I thank my fellow students for this large, progressive step forward.

There were many other decisions made at the annual general meeting, so I encourage students to read the minutes when they are posted on ursu.ca.

Kent Peterson
URSU President

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