Weekly Briefs: Feb. 4 – Feb. 8, 2019

Open letter to SRC

Fourth-year student Ariel Ottens read an open letter to the Student Representative Council at St. Thomas University Students’ Union Feb. 10 meeting, expressing frustration with STUSU for its “complacency and inactions.”

The letter was brought forward by Ottens and third-year student Naomi Gullison.

“We ask that you listen with an open heart and mind,” Ottens said.

The letter discussed accessibility on campus, the need to advocate for more mental health counsellors, fighting tuition fees, pushing for more professors in the Native Studies department, making Native Studies courses mandatory and decolonizing the university.

“Executive representatives need to remember that unions are not pedestals to meet politicians and work within the systems,” Ottens said.

“They were created by activists who were being mistreated and trapped, just like many STU students.”

Ottens also said STUSU needs to address student employment concerns at The 203 Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity. Students can’t work in paid positions at The 203 Centre, Ottens said.   

Otten also said STUSU shouldn’t promote Bell Let’s Talk Day.

“It’s embarrassing that STU takes part in it.”

The letter also advocated for STU to withdraw it’s membership in the New Brunswick Student Alliance and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

“They have undermined students organizing against tuition with its complacent lobbying philosophy,” Ottens said.  

“It’s time for all of us to ask ourselves what the values and goals of our student union should be.”

STUSU president Brianna Workman thanked the students for bringing their concerns forward. She said she agreed with some of their points and disagreed with others.

Workman said STUSU has been pushing for more mental health counsellors. She said STUSU agrees that accessibility is an issue on campus and she said the NBSA is trying to address that concern.

She disagreed that STUSU should drop its membership with the NBSA and CASA.

“The NBSA is the only voice for students in the province,” Workman said.

She said although there’s an alternative option for a federal advocacy student organization, the Canadian Federation of Students, that wouldn’t be a good fit for STUSU based on her experience in student leadership.

“It would be more expensive than CASA. I really doubt we’d be heard as a voice within the CFS.”

She said she hadn’t heard about the concerns about The 203 Centre. She said there’s still much work to be done at STU and in the province in terms of decolonization.

Workman offered to sit down with the students and talk one-on-one.

Career fair

A career fair will be taking place on Feb. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Great Hall in George Martin Hall. Some of the employers at the job fair include Canada Border Services Agency, the City of Fredericton, the Government of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Provincial Park.

Election season 

Election season is in full swing for the St.Thomas University Students’ Union.

The nomination period ends Feb. 13 at 4 p.m. Nomination forms can be picked up at the Help Desk in James Dunn Hall and need to be returned there before the nomination period ends.

There will be a mandatory meeting on Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the off-campus student lounge in JDH.

The campaigning period starts Feb. 15 and ends Feb. 20. The election will take place Feb. 21 and 22 with the results being announced on Feb. 22.

Viola Desmond documentary

There will be a documentary screening on Feb. 28 at 6 p.m. in Brian Mulroney Hall room 101. The documentary is called Long Road to Justice: The Viola Desmond Story and is directed by Brian Murray.

In 1946, Desmond refused to leave the whites-only section of a theatre in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia. She was forcefully removed and jailed. This inspired the civil rights movement in Canada.

The screening will include a presentation from the Bank of Canada on the new $10 bill, which features Desmond. She is the first woman to appear on a regularly circulating Canadian bank note.

Sustainability conference

STUSU vice-president Emma Walsh met with the at-large representatives Feb. 7 to discuss the possibility of STU hosting a sustainability conference.

Walsh said the conference would involve inviting students from other Canadian universities to STU’s campus next winter to “talk about how to better organize the student effort around sustainability and best practices.”