Photo: Erica Guy

Council March 23

Photo: Erica Guy

Heelloooooo King’s! Karen can’t make it to Council tomorrow, but Anika will be live-blogging like it’s her job (today, it is). Check back at 8am for more!

8:08 am meeting called to order.

Chair recognizes that this meeting is taking place on mi’kmaq land. James Pottie and Claire Bernard are welcomed as the new DSS reps on council. Jessica Brennan is also welcome to her first meeting as residence rep.

Hanna talks about the Dalhousie science event that you should go to. It’s Mach 26th at 10-3 in the McInnes room.

Jessica just got elected. She is looking into money for getting Alex Hall decorated. She is organizing something that doesn’t happen that may or may not be a campus residence event.

Haritha went to the DSU council meeting. They overturned their vote to leave CASA and SNS. They rejoined. The upcoming council meeting has a motion to rescind that vote.

This isn’t specifically related to Anika’s BoG duties, but mental health is an important issue on campus. Anika will be volunteering at the Mindball candy bar Saturday March 29th. You should all come out to the Lord Nelson on the 29th at 10pm to have a good time and help raise money for mental health. Check facebook for more info.

Eleanor did tabling with Dave from the CFS. She is reading a board package and getting up to speed.

James just got elected and is excited to do a quality job

8:15

So now we are on to Michaela’s report. She is giving official public notice for the KSU general meeting Monday March 31st, 2014. It will be super fun and a great break from studying. She has continued the work of the academic planning committee and the enrollment planning committee as she has changed over into her role as president. She has finished the library feedback project as well.

Alex is happy about a successful country night. The first meeting of the campus planning committee happened. It will create a long term plan for the physical space of the university. There will be a workshop in the coming month about this. If anyone is interested in space and appearance on campus, let Alex know! K-points and award callouts are happening again. K-points are based on the things you do to engage in the King’s community. Email slvp@ksu.ca with a list of the things you have done. The subject should be your name and then, k-points.

Emily said that the yearbook for this year is actually making money in advertising! The callout for photos for this year is on now. Send them to ericaguy113@gmail.com. She has been working a lot on the budget. As a little teaser for what to expect at the GM THAT YOU SHOULD ALL COME TO MARCH 31st: She has separated levies as internal and external. The executive honoraria is $4400 per year.

Katie went to the NSPIRG general meeting. We pay a levy there and they offer money for social justice and environment projects. Get involved, or contact Katie for more info. She also went to South House. They just won a Dal levy which means they will have more staff people and want to increase their presence on King’s campus. There was tabling for CFS Nova Scotia and to help trans citizens more easily change their name on official government documents. POWERSHIFT is a social justice and environmental youth conference. “IT’S A REALLY BIG DEAL…IT’S GOING TO BE INCREDIBLE.” THE KSU IS GIVING OUT 20 TICKETS FOR FREE. You should come to the KSU office by 2pm tomorrow to get your FREE ticket. Katie is working to co-ordinate efforts of solidarity to improve advocacy on King’s. She also wants to strengthen her connection to our levied societies. There is the South House AGM tomorrow (Monday) at 7pm. Come on out if you are interested, or IF YOU WANT TO BE A BOARD MEMBER. She, like the rest of the exec, wants to work on mental health issues at King’s.

Jacob said that they have revised some bylaws with the bylaw review committee. He’s been doing some fancy technology and communication stuff. He wrote his first TWAK. THE GENERAL MEETING WILL BE BREAKFAST FOR DINNER THEMED. You should come March 31st 7pm! He did some stuff with the handbook. He is working on communication with NSCAD. He made this nifty guide on how King’s students can take NSCAD classes. If you want to be a UHP, email cvp@ksu.ca.

8:33

We are voting on whether the Day Students’ Society (DSS) getting special designation for 2013/2014. Alex recommends postponing. We voted it down.

We are voting on whether the executive should get their honorarium. They all went through. Great job Anna, Michaela, Alex, Jesse, and Haydn!

We are voting on whether the King’s Wordsmiths should get 1440 black and white copies for a magazine. Seems cool. You should check it out! It goes through.

We are voting on whether the Platypus Society should get $250.00 for non-contingent funding for printing the Platypus Review. It is a political and economic magazine about the left. If you’re interested in leftest politics, check them out. Now we are chatting about this. We have never funded printing before. This is because Dal has usually funded this, however there is a third of the magazines that will be at King’s. This goes through.

We are voting on whether the FYP society gets $460 in funding for printing the FYP journal and the launch. There is discussion. The money will be spent at two different occasions that happen in two different fiscal years. Is this a problem? Societies can ratify and get funding during frosh week of the new year. We are amending it to $385 to just cover printing. They can apply for the other part of the money later. This goes through.

We are voting on whether the HOST society gets $700 for printing the Tooth and Claw. They try to popularize student work in the field of the history and philosophy of science. We are discussing it. They currently have $350 in their bank account. Alex asks if they are asking for enough money. Haritha who is also an exec on HOST said that they will stay within the budget. Other people who have publishing experience agree that the $700 is reasonable. This goes through.

8:48. We are in recess for 10 minutes. OMG we are zooming through.

8:59. We are back!

We are electing search committees for all our UHPs. I’m just going to write who gets elected.

Chair (chairs meetings): Colleen Earl, Eleanor Hornbeck, Karen Gross, and Ben Von Bedrow

Orientation week coordinator (3 people who organize Frosh): Meg Collins, Justin Moir, and Sarah Miller

Campus Safety Coordinator (works to make the campus safe and comfortable for all): Bethany Hindmarsh, Rachelle McKay, and Hannah Medley

Sustainability Officer (helps develop sustainability on campus): Caitrin Pilkington, Gabrielle Wiley, and Catherine Thomas

Chief Returning Officer (runs elections): Ben Singbil, Brenna Sobanski, Kayla Fells, and Carly Gardener

Scribe (takes super fast notes for council. OMG so important for accountability): Becka Steels, Hannah Martin, and Hannah Yaphe.

CUBE (organizes sports stuff): Nick Twara and Patrick Felguncio with Allison Hill as an alternate.

9:20. We are done the action items and it’s only 9:20. I wish I was this efficient on days I worked on my thesis. We are on discussion items.

Jacob is talking about revisions of the KSU by-laws and procedural handbook. Lots of nit-picky, quality stuff going on here. Eleanor makes clear that the by-laws must be changed at General Meetings, but the Operations Policy can be changed by council via Special Resolution. This is good. For example, the Bylaw Review Committee (formerly the CRC) is in the By-laws so that council can’t control it. This is good for democracy because otherwise council could elect the people on the committee that write the stuff that governs them.

Jake is an expert in By-law stuff. Michaela is now chair so that Jake can speak to by-law stuff as a general member. Things are getting detailed up in hurrr. If you are interested, come on out to the General Meeting March 31st at 7pm! If you aren’t interested, fear not, the General meeting will not be all by-law stuff. It will also have dinner for breakfast. SO PLEASE COME OUT TO THE GENERAL MEETING. 

9:35 am

Discussion on revisions to the bylaws is over, moving on to the FVP’s proposed budget for 2014-2015. Want to know where your cash monays might be flowing next year? Come out to the General Meeting on Monday March 31st!

10:25

We are back from our recces to elect Katie Douglas, our EVP as the first year rep on Orientation hiring committee. She has put a lot of thought into it.

10:39

Jim is here

Background: Jim Fitzpatrick, the bursar here at King’s, is coming in to talk tuition. Why? King’s is proposing a 3% tuition fee increase as well as a 3% increase to ancillary fees. Ancillary fees are “non-academic services such as residence accommodations, food services, health services, and student associations.” For King’s, this means the King’s Administration Fee, King’s College Fee, King’s Athletic Fee, King’s Facility Renewal Fee, and King’s Technology Renewal Fee. They will also be increasing meal plans by 8%. 

What regulates fees? The memorandum of understanding is an agreement between the province and the universities. Here is a link to the full thing. http://www.atlanticuniversities.ca/system/files/documents/CONSUPNews/MOU%20III%20-%20signed%2020122011.pdf.

Here is a set of highlights of the MOU to do with fee raises: 13 a of the MOU says that “universities agree that they will not increase auxiliary fees or ancillary fees within their control to compensate for an inability to raise tuition fees beyond the tuition caps in this agreement.” In section 13 d is says “auxiliary and ancillary fees will be transparent with regard to the goods and services they are designed to be applied against.” In 13 e it says “increases in auxiliary and ancillary fees will not exceed increases in the costs of providing the services or goods provided.”

Now we are back to what Jim is saying. He came last council with the university budget. It included an assumed 3% tuition increase. It was recently approved at the Board meeting which I was at. Anna, Karis and I voted against it because of the assumed tuition increase. Dalhousie has announced publicly a 3% rise in tuition fees for most programs. This is the maximum the government allows according to the MOU. Because of our unique relationship with Dal, we have tied our undergrad tuition fees to Dal’s tuition fees. We are also increasing graduate fees by 3%.

Still Jim talking here. The non-tuition fee fees are more complicated. Dal is increasing one of their fees, only their facility renewable fee, by 3%. We are thus doing the same. However, we are also raising the other ancillary fees as mentioned above. All these fees are covered under the MOU.

Jim says the one exception to the 3% raises is the meal plan fee. It is going up 8%. The meal plan fee is connected with the Sudexo contract that ends in 2017. It means the university has to pay a per meal fee. You can expect it to go up 3-4% in increases in food. The university then charges students for the service of the meal plan. Traditionally, King’s adds just a little bit on to what King’s pays to Sudexo to make a slight profit off the food plan. However, there are more costs to running the meal plan than just sudexo. Prince hall and the kitchen are expensive to run (heating, cooling, water, waste removal etc). They have estimated around $75,000 of utilities to keep it open. The previous profit didn’t cover all of this. King’s is losing money on the meal plan. They would need to raise meal plan rates 15ish% to break even this year. They plan on making up the 15% incrementally.

There is an energy and water audit going on at King’s right now. They are preparing a report on how we can save money on utility costs. We haven’t don’t much for this on campus and it is a huge expense. We just don’t have enough money to retrofit everything at the moment, but we are working on it. We hope to save a lot of money in utilities in the next few years.

If we were sitting here and the government did not have a cap on fees, we would be looking at bigger raises. The costs have actually gone up more than 3%.

At the June 26th Board meeting the Board will approve all these fees. The ministry of labour and advanced education also has to look at this fee. The minister will not approve the rise, but they will not tell the university not to raise fees. If they have a concern they will let the university know.

10:58

We are now on to questions

Michaela asks about MOU. It says you need to give 4 weeks advance notice for student consultation, but they are just approaching us now and they will go to the government March 31st. Jim said that things could change after the March 31st deadline. Michaela says that that the MOU ensures that increased fees can only be put into place if costs rise. We want to see specific numbers if this is so. The MOU also says that new fees can only be for new services, not to make up for a lack of money. What do you think Jim? Jim feels that they have met 13a and b. He gives an example of the residence fee: we have residence buildings that exist already. How much does it cost to run the residences? It costs more than 3% more every year. We could actually argue for more than a 3% rise. If there were no cap, this discussion would be much longer.

Jacob asks if the application fee is also going up 3% for new students. Jim says they are waiting to hear from Dal.

Emily asks if the feels will apply to grad student fees. Jim will get back to us on that.

Claire asks about where the technology renewable fee will go and why it is going up. Jim said he wants to talk to us about that. He has a list of a few suggestions (update audio visual equipment, they have put in wifi, now they are thinking of putting wifi in the quad (…), the land-line connections are sketchy, updating common rooms). Claire understands that putting in wifi is a capital expense, but doesn’t understand wifi in the quad. She also says that we shouldn’t have a fee that we come up with things to use it for, we should only have it if we need it. We should know where the money is going before we ask for more money. We also need to define what technology is.

Hannah asks about the connection between increases in fees and utility costs. She wants to see firm plans in place to reduce the increases in utility costs in the future. Jim said we do have plan and we are doing an energy audit. We are asking for money from the government under the excellence and innovation fund to put these things in place.

Alex sits on the university advisory committee. He said he has been really disappointed by the 8% rise in meal plans. It was not in the public documents put out by the committee. This large increase is out after the public consultation. Jim said that was the budget process. The budget made assumptions, not what will actually happen. He wasn’t looking at fees in detail then. Alex says we are missing out on necessary procedure. Jim says maybe we did and that’s his fault. Then we will need to change the structure of meetings. He moved things ahead to approve them earlier because he thinks it is better. It wasn’t a deliberate mistake. He thinks Alex is “wasting time” working on stuff like that. Jim says budgets are assumptions, we worked ahead on that. Nothing is final and it doesn’t have to be. “A budget is nothing more than an educated case of the most likely future…you need to put some controls on spending…so you make assumptions.”

11:25

Jim says we need to keep our heads above water. Do we go for international students? Do we raise fees? The meal plan fee raise is about $35-40,000 more, which means less cuts. The other major contract we have is the cleaning contract for $400,000. We cut this substantially, but we can’t be spending so much on cleaning.

Katie thinks it is strange that we are increasing the technology fee with no specific plans. Why don’t you take a year and evaluate the situation before raising. We can proceed forward with a clear-cut plan that has done campus wide consultation if then it is deemed appropriate. Jim says “Ok. That’s a good point. Alright, I’ll take that back to the administration.”

Jessica asks if the renovations in Alex now are happening with more energy efficient things to cut down on utility costs. Jim said we are installing more efficient lights and heating.

Eleanor asked about budgeted enrollment. He is assuming a 1% decrease in enrollment in the undergraduate. The masters programs are going up substantially because of the new program. This is protecting us from a large deficit.

Anika asked about squaring the large rise in meal plans with the fact that residence is advertised as a way to easily budget for next year. Jim said we should assume a rise. Anika said inflation is natural to assume, but not 8%. He said he will let people know.

11:36

Michaela says that we need to get serious about consultation. We expect legitimate consultation prior to fee raises, not just after the fact when they are already happening. It should not only be council that gets to have a meting with Jim, but all students should be able to engage in discussions around fees. Michaela says it is incredibly worrying that fees are raising so much in the context of our desire to increase diversity, mental health, and retention. King’s has the highest ancillary fees in the Maritimes. So King’s could just transfer to Dalhousie. These fees seem to be in contradiction to our desires to increase retention and the accessibility of education. She also said that it is inappropriate to frame the conversation as though the administration would raise fees more if there wasn’t an MOU. She gave a great speech about how these fees are deeply problematic, but I couldn’t catch it all. All Jim said was “thank you.”

Katie asks how we can be charging more for the meal plan when lots of the food is so yucky. She also said that the residence rooms are not super nice and it’s hard to get people to pay. This will be detrimental for enrollment because our meal plan and buildings aren’t great. Jim said “Hmm. ya.”

Alex went into the specifics of dollar value increases. Alex said that we have many students who are committed to this school. However, students will struggle to stay here because they could get the same education and pay less by going to Dal. Does this make sense? Jim said “of course it does.”

Claire said that Sudexo has been on campus for a number of years (35 to be precise I think). But loyalty does not mean quality. She also asked who enforces the late fees for paying tuition. Currently, students need to pay $50 if they miss paying tuition. Jim says we share the fee with Dal. We follow Dal, and Dal accounts collects tuition, so probably this. Claire says that OSAP (Ontario student loans)  is very slow and makes is challenging to get tuition in on time. Students with debt should not have to pay extra for late fee. She thinks there should be a way that you can show proof of your loan being stuck and get an extension on paying tuition. She thinks the fee is “just mean.” Jim said he will look into that.

11:48

Jacob has some comments on retention and reputation. 10 c of the MOU talks about improvements in quality assurance and accountability in university. Are we going to review the quality of food at Sudexo? If not, you are raising costs without raising services/quality. Bad expensive food is not good for retention. He also asked Jim what he would say to a student who is mostly taking classes at Dal why he should stay at King’s. Jim said “I don’t have much of an argument financially all things being equal.” Jacob also said that these fees are also being raised to cover new costs. Could we lose money through a drop in enrollment by raising fees so much in an attempt to make money? Jacob said the administration may end up shooting themselves in the foot. Jim said “no argument. These are debates and discussions we have all the time.” These are things you think about when providing a service or selling a good. He compared students to customers.

Gwendolyn made a point about how there is a way to waive late fees, but that no one is every approved. She says this is problematic.

Hannah raises the issue that students are not consumers. She understands the financial requirements. However, we are not numbers and money. We are here to learn and she fears this has been lost along the way.

Meeting adjourned at 11:56