Archive for month: December, 2015

PUBLIC STATEMENT TO UVSS MEMBERS – Financial Error: Course Union Council Funding

In regards to many questions and concerns that have been raised by our members about the overturn in funding for the Undergraduates of Political Science (UPS) and their upcoming conference “Discourses on Sovereignty: Land, Borders and Bodies” the Board of Directors would like to issue this statement to explain our actions.

On October 7, the UPS requested $6000 for their conference on Sovereignty: Land, Borders and Bodies through Course Union Council. According to Course Union Council Policy, any amount over $2000 must also get the approval of the Board of Directors. While this is explicit in our policy, the UVSS Director of Student Affairs issued a cheque prior to Board approval in order to allow UPS to meet their deadline. The UVSS General Manager signed an agreement with the hotel on behalf of the UPS after the approval from Course Union Council. 

When the Board of Directors asked for more information before approving the conference, a stop payment was issued on the cheque. But, the contract with the hotel had already been signed. We have since reimbursed the President of the UPS for the cost originally associated with the hotel booking.

The UVSS takes full responsibility for the mistakes we made in this process and for breaching our financial policy. The cheque should not have been issued until it was approved by the Board of Directors. While we did try to accommodate the UPS’ time sensitive request, policy was not followed and for that we must be accountable. We also want to let our members know what we plan to do in the future to ensure that mistakes like this do not happen again.

Moving forward, there are a number of actions that we are going to take. We are in the process of revisiting how we can accommodate event organizers on tight timelines while ensuring Board oversight. As a part of this, we will update our policy to require board minutes (draft or approved) to be attached to cheque requisitions for Academic Grants over $2,000. We will also conduct a thorough review and update of our Finance & Operations Policy, specifically our financial controls, and will complete this work by the end of the 2015-2016 board term.

We as a Board hold ourselves accountable for our actions. We apologize to the Undergraduates of Political Science and to our members for this financial error.

In community,
The UVSS Board of Directors.

If you have any questions or concerns please send them to UVSS Director of Student Affairs Kaylee Szakacs at

PUBLIC STATEMENT TO UVSS MEMBERS – Funding for the Undergraduates of Political Science Conference

At the October 26, 2015 meeting of the UVSS Board of Directors, the Undergraduates of Political Science (UPS) requested $6000 for their conference on Sovereignty: Land, Borders and Bodies, through Course Union Council. The Board tabled this motion as concerns were raised about the content of the conference and the lack of proper consultation with Indigenous communities. We invited the UPS to come and present to us on the conference at our next board meeting on November 2, 2015. When our concerns were not adequately addressed in the presentation, the Board voted unanimously not to support the conference at that time. Specifically, the Board was concerned that consultation with NSU or Esquimalt Nation had not occurred, and therefore could not support a conference about sovereignty where organizers did not appropriately include communities on whose unceded land we are situated.

As the Board of Directors of the UVic Students’ Society, we try to actively navigate our own privileges by making space for and listening to the voices of those who are traditionally silenced.

However, this isn’t to say that we are perfect. Unlearning behaviours and calling out oppression is a messy and complicated task – but rather than pushing back on each other when being called out, we have to come together as communities to try to face discomfort and learn from it.

The UVSS recognizes the value in bringing a conversation on sovereignty to Victoria, but remains committed to ensuring that this conversation is held with the consent of all stakeholders. Consultation with Indigenous folks on this topic should not have been an afterthought. We are talking about the use of student money and when students tell us that money will be spent in a way that causes harm – we have to hold each other accountable to preventing harm.

The UVSS Board of Directors places ourselves as complicit within a system that caused harm to students and we recognize that colonialism is an ongoing process within which we are embedded. Breaking down colonial structures is a complicated task, but without forming and tending to valuable relationships within our communities, we simply cannot tackle those structures in a good way. Preventing harm in the future means proactively building linkages between campus communities with many different experiences.

Listening to the voices of those traditionally silenced and marginalized is not coddling. It is a process by which communities can come together to produce the culture shift needed to create a more inclusive society. Some folks may feel put out by this process, but perhaps this serves as an important reminder: change isn’t comfortable – if it was it would be called complacency.

For these reasons, the UVSS Board of Directors stands by our recent decision to overturn $6,000 in funding to the Undergraduates of Political Science conference on Sovereignty: Land, Borders and Bodies.  The UVSS will not be able to support this conference until we are confident that the Undergraduates of Political Science have engaged in meaningful consultation with NSU and other local indigenous groups to ensure this event is not harmful to our members and our community.

In community,
The UVSS Board of Directors.

Refugees resettled in the greater Victoria region to receive free one-year bus pass

Victoria – The Victoria Regional Transit Commission will provide every refugee resettled in the greater Victoria region with a free one-year bus pass. A motion to establish this program was brought forward by Kenya Rogers, Director of External Relations for the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) and member of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. The motion passed unanimously at yesterday’s commission meeting.

“This initiative will ensure that those fleeing heart-wrenching circumstances are able to get around the city they now call home,” said UVSS Director of External Relations Kenya Rogers. “Providing a bus pass to refugees is just one way of supporting individuals who are faced with the difficulties of resettlement and integration into a new community. It will allow for newcomers to move freely around the city and to access the many services, community groups, and public spaces in the region.”

The bus passes will be available for refugees resettled in the region between December 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016 and the motion includes a provision that could see it become a permanent program. Although this initiative was a response to the unfolding crises in Syria and the Mediterranean, bus passes will be provided to any refugees resettled in the region, regardless of country of origin.

“We’re very proud that this motion was brought forward by the student representative on the Transit Commission,” said Andrea Eggenberger, Camosun College Student Society (CCSS) External Executive. “It’s exciting that the shared student seat on the Transit Commission is helping to make the Greater Victoria Region a supportive and welcoming place for refugees.”

Students are now challenging municipalities and transit authorities across the country to provide free transit access to refugees. If you support this initiative, tweet and tag your mayor, city councillors, transit chair, and any public official using the hashtag #WelcomeOnBoard.

The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) was established in 1964 and represents the 17,000 undergraduate students at the University of Victoria. The UVSS would like to recognize that the University of Victoria is built on the unceded unsurrendered territories of the Lekwungen and WSANEC Peoples and its presence on this land is in itself an act of violence.

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Kenya Rogers UVSS Director of External Relations –