Council September 28

Photo: Erica Guy

11:10

Meeting is called to order. The chair recognized we are on Mi’kmaq territory

We approved the agenda and the minutes and such.

11:14

Clair Bernard, day students rep, is excited to start spreadsheeting for the DSS.

James Pottie, day students rep, said they are prepping for the election. They are ready and excited.

Hannah Yaphe, science rep, said she is looking for science people to build the community. Science kids, go chat with her!

Jessica Brennan, residence rep, has been dealing with funding requests for residence. She is really excited with some stuff with the campus safety coordinator.

Eleanor Hornbeck, BoG rep, she said she will let Michaela talk about stuff and welcomed Aidan McNally, the new BoG rep.

Aidan McNally, new BoG rep, is excited to get working.

*Note, most of our counselors and executive went to Canadian Federation of Students (Nova Scotia) skills training this weekend where we learned about the student movement, techniques for organizing, organizing with equity in mind, and got to meet fellow student leaders*

11:19

Michaela Sam, president, thanked the past election committee. She also said that we are about to open elections for new counselors.  Everyone is welcome to become a counselor! Ask if you are nervous, or have questions about council, how to campaign, ect.

Sam spoke about the successful CFS skills.

Sam is on the long term financial planning committee. As we know from a recent herald article (http://thechronicleherald.ca/metro/1239100-king-s-college-president-optimistic-despite-financial-crunch), King’s is in a challenging financial situation. We have Cooper (the school president) and Fitzpatrick (the bursur) coming in today to talk to them about our financial situation. She urged counselors to advocate for the students they represent. Too often the first solution suggested to financial woes is to put more pressure on students and further increase fees.

Sam went to a Board of Governors executive meeting. She contantly reminds people to think of students as people, not numbers and not financial sources to be mined. She went to the manning room opening. She attended the student-government roundtable. This year a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be signed. It is an agreement between the government and administration around things like tuition fees. This year, they are holding consultations with all stakeholders about the MOU. The Canadian Federation of Students has well researched policy suggestions. Check out a summary, here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10153391232470260&set=oa.1472668142996473&type=3&theater.

11:29

Alex Bryant, student life vice president is giving his report. He went to the royal society of Canada’s discussion on the business to the university. It was interesting.

He enjoyed CFS skills.

 

He is hosting a societies training with Emily Rendell-Watson on Thursday for all society reps. Come on out!

11:32

Emily Rendel-Watson, financial vice president, is giving her report.

She also enjoyed CFS skills.

There is a new finance committee that was elected at the KSU general meeting. She is looking forward to working with them. She sits on the university finance committee. She went to the government roundtable. She is excited for society training.

11:35

Katie Douglas, outgoing external vice president, is giving her report. She is wrapping up everything she has started. She has organized three series about sexual assault on campus with the safety co-ordinator and the deal of residence. They will be about consent and alcohol, how to support someone who was assaulted, and how to be a bystandard.

She has been working on the vigil for Missing and murdered indigenous women on October 4th at 2pm in Parade square. She suggests that the incoming external vice president get a King’s contingent out for this.

She congratulated Brianna Aird on a her successful DIY cosmetics workshop with environmental defense.

11:40

Anika Roberts-Stahlbrand, incoming external vice president, just recently got elected. She went over her goals for the year. She wants to work with Katie to make sure she continues the great work Katie was doing.

She also went to CFS skills.

She is always open to learning. Check out her facebook page to stay up to date on student issues and general equity issues. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1472661049663849/

11:43

Jacob Baker-Krezmar, communication vice president, is giving his report. He thanked everyone for coming to the general meeting.

Societies can get emails ending in @ksu.ca. Talk to Alex Bryant about his. He has been working on the new website.

We are looking for a King’s student to go to Dal meetings. We are so close, it is great to work together. If you are free Wednesdays at 6:30, talk to Jacob and go there to represent King’s.

11:45

We are now voting on who will fill the 3 positions of the bylaw review committee. Here are the people running: Melinda is interested in law and has an attention to detail. Elanor has experience, institutional memory, and embraces jargon. Jake is thoughtful, attentive to detail, and would be perfect to correct bylaw grammar. Brin is very engaged in the King’s community, and she has experience working with legal text in the Vancouver archives. We voted, Melinda, Elanor, and Jake as bylaw review committee members with Brin as an alternate.

11:53

We are now voting on who will fill the academic committee. This year, as we are discussing the financial future of the school, we will be looking at our academic offerings. It will be exciting. The people running are: Sam Stubb, Michelle, Rebecca, Colleen, and Sam Cotton.  Sam S has a lot of energy which keeps people going when a group is going through tedious stuff, and is an active member of the outdoor’s society. Michelle already had experience on this committee, she is very smart, and a fantastic member. Colleen is very involved and present on campus, and she actually likes meetings. Rebecca is organized, thoughtful, and articulate. Sam C transformed the culture of student council as president in high school, he has a lot of energy, and is hardworking.  We voted and Sam Stubb, Sam Cotton, and Michelle were elected.

12:01

We are voting to mandate the outgoing and incoming EVP to bring a report to council about how best to structure the environmental affairs committee in the bylaws and in real life, yo. Katie Douglas is speaking to this. The Environmental Affairs committee has never formally met, despite being in the bylaws. The purpose is to create sustainability policy and recommend sustainability measures for the school. At the same time, Sustainability King’s became an offshoot of the External Action Committee. It is in a weird bylaw situation. #lovedembylaws. We need to make this into a sustainable committee, haha, funny pun, so that it continues to function. Form follows function — all you host students know that. We want to make it so the bylaws make sense for us.

12:07

We were going to vote on someone to be on the board of the Galley. This is an opportunity to sit at the helm of our rad student cafe, founded on revolution. However, we have not advertised this adequately. We will vote on it on October 19th, in the boardroom at 10. Nominate yourself if you are interested!

12:09

We are voting on who will be on the university’s journalism discipline committee. People who are nominated: Jessica and Rebecca. Jessica was a formal journalism student, so she knows what is going on — she would like to do it and she knows the deal. Rebecca is still great (she was described above). We voted, and Jessica got elected.

12:13

We are voting on who will be elected to the University’s board of appeal and discipline. People who are nominated: Emily, Katie, and James. Emily is very responsible, a strong student advocate, is involved in the community, has lived in residence, and is a staff person in the King’s community. Katie is interested in gender and equity issues which are important to deal with around discipline, she has been a student representative and knows the students, she has the time to take on a committee and do her research, she is committed to understanding the diversity of the committee. James is an incredible de-escalator, which he learned on patrol, he is protective of the King’s community, he has created a safe place for those struggling with mental illness, he is a former ‘little shit’ but has become a leader in safety in our community, he is very strict with alcohol safety as seen through his job with the wardroom. We voted and James is elected.

12:27 we recessed

12:49

We are voting on ratifying the Day Students Society. This is exciting as the Day Students Society and the KSU have had a rocky relationship in the past. Colleen isn’t down with that #whycan’twebefriends. The motion passed #wearefamily.

12:50

We are voting on ratifying a bunch of societies. Bryant said there are so many engaged and creative students at King’s. It’s great to see them doing so much. We ratified a bunch of them. Get involved!

1:01

We are voting on giving the Dornish Red Society $125. We have amended it to $75. This will fund their events for this term, and then they can apply for more money next term. It passed.

1:03 we are voting to suspend the agenda to talk with Cooper, president of King’s and Fitzpatrick, bursar of King’s (#moneystuff).

Cooper is setting the scene with general facts. [We need to be critical of how the administration frames, or situates, our financial struggles. The way it is framed affects where you place blame and the solutions you can think of. I know one thing we can count on at King’s is that you, our students, know how to read and think critically. ]

We are small school that focuses on humanities and journalism. Cooper read a magazine article that said in 15 years 50% of universities of the United States would become bankrupt. They said the only universities that would survive were those that pursued excellence (intense interaction with students and culture). Cooper doesn’t know what the future will look like, but he knows the current system needs a lot of tweaks. All universities are facing financial challenges.

1:12

Why is King’s specifically facing challenges? Since the 1970s, and specifically 2008, there has been decreasing interest in humanities and journalism. Up until now, we have bucked that trend. Last year at this time there were 309 people in FYP, but is now down by about 50 people. At the moment, enrollment is down 5.4% at King’s. The university of Toronto arts and social science enrollment went down 10.1% over the last 3 years. Even Harvard is having difficulty attracting humanities students.

1:16

In March the Board approved a balanced budget at King’s. Since enrollment is down, it is now now at a deficit. King’s can’t deal with a deficit. The long term financial planning committee, with representatives from students, staff, professors, faculty, the Board, business people and more, is tasked with getting the school back on a stable footing.

So how does Cooper diagnose the problems we are facing? 1) Enrollment is down. 2) Over the last few years $12 million have been spent on backed up faculty repairs. Much of this came out of our operating budget. 3) Government funding has gone down. He said that all over the Western world governments are dealing with people that don’t want to pay taxes and expensive health care. We have a smaller tax base to support this. There are also less young people. Cooper said that if funding simply stayed the same and went up with inflation we would have a $300,000 surplus. However, it has been deeply cut since 2011.

He says our problems are external. “There are all kinds of forces external to us that are beating at our door all day everyday.”

We need to do everything efficiently [efficient is always a scary word]. This includes looking at our academic offers. Cooper thinks this university is a jewel in world education. We will do whatever is necessary for King’s to continue. He is hopeful.

1:24

Now Fitzpatrick is talking. He says nothing has been discussed formally about fee raises. Once they know the plan more they say they will talk to students.

Fitzpatrick was struck by the fact that even in Ontario, for the first time, the number of university students coming from highschool has stopped. There was a long history of it going up and suddenly it is down.

Cooper followed us to say, we just don’t have the same number of students in Nova Scotia or anywhere else in Canada. We need to get really creative with what we are going to offer: for credit courses, non-credit courses, how to write courses for business people, media training, FYP in the summer for non-credit attendance for working adults, junior high school camps about what it’s like to go to university, sports journalism courses for high school students… He is open to, and really WANTS, to hear your ideas and solutions. He also said that we have doubled our efforts in recruitment. We have a closer relationship with Dal recruitment, so they will talk about King’s now.

Michaela Sam asked about the proposed solutions in the report leaked to the press. Cooper said there are a few solutions in the report. 1) An optional (by choice) faculty freeze is on the table. 2) New academic programs and reviewing our current courses. 3) Cuts to multiple budget lines.

Now we are on to questions.

Is the $1.1 million this year a deficit or debt? We have $5 million of debt. This year there is a budget deficit of $1.1 million.

How does changing the price of tuition affect our enrollment and retention? Fitzpatrick said that all universities charge the same. However, King’s fees are actually higher than those at Dal. Cooper blames the athletics fee for this, rather than the technology fee and facilities renewal fee they just added at the Board. They did not answer the question.

Enrollment of students from Ontario is down. Travel costs is a big deterrent. Could we partner with a travel agency to help travel become more affordable for students?  Cooper said he is interested in this idea.

King’s currently has some of the highest fees in Nova Scotia. It’s great that we are reaching out to more students. But we may reach a capacity limit. How many more students are out there? Do we have enough faculty to provide quality education to tons of students? Is mining for students sustainable. Are we looking to government for more money? Cooper started off by saying King’s isn’t that different from other schools, just a few hundred dollars more [please note the disconnect from students here. A few hundred dollars is meaningful for us. It’s groceries for a term, rent for a month, textbooks for a year]. “One of the opportunities we have is to appeal to ‘kids’ from the US.” There are thousands of students across Canada that have not heard of King’s, just because we don’t have the capacity. We are trying to Megaphone our message out by attaching ourselves to Dalhousie recruitment going to 1000 school. These are the things we are pursuing. In terms of the price of education he says there is a time when it gets too high and people go elsewhere. However, we have a unique program that overcomes that. Fitzpatrick said we aren’t expecting much growth to government funding.

Cooper is speaking about the government facts. On a per capital basis (per general citizen) we have the second highest level of funding in Canada. However, 53% of our students come from out of province. Per student, we therefore have some of the lowest level of funding. Will the government increase funding “I don’t think so.” We will hammer them, but  he doesn’t think it is likely.

1:56

What do King’s administration representatives say to government? How are we treating this problem so that it is more long-term? Is restructuring internally a long-term solution? Cooper said they speak to government a lot. He is optimistic that the premier sees universities as the engine of Nova Scotia. Cooper said he can’t ask for money unless it’s for something specific. He said the government is in debt [please note: Nova Scotia has a very healthy debt to GDP ratio and it has  become healthier over the last few years]. The last memorandum of understanding funds universities based on enrollment numbers in 2005-7. King’s has grown immensely, but our grant has not gone up. Cooper said “everybody is trying their best here.”

2:01

We used to have an observing position, through the Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia, on the memorandum of understanding board. How are we going to know what is going on? He didn’t answer this.

2:07

What’s being done for Nova Scotian students? Cooper said King’s is spending more time going to high schools here. They want to make sure that all Nova Scotians know about King’s and for those that it is appropriate choose it. Cooper said King’s needs to go on a capital campaign (which means fundraising) so that we can have more money for scholarships and bursaries.

2:11

Will you join us in advocating government for more funding? We can’t blame external factors for our current situation. We have known the trends about humanities for years, we shouldn’t have let the repairs fall behind, and we can advocate the government for more funding. The board and administration needs to take responsibility for mistakes, and you should join students in advocating for student issues.  They didn’t really answer. Fitzpatrick goes to many government meetings. They went over the tuition situation in Nova Scotia and looked at multiple options for tuition fees. There wasn’t much decided in that meeting.

2:18

Science rep said that there isn’t much going for science students here because it is more expensive than Dal. What are we going to do about it? Cooper said it is a problem that there are declining science students. He through the question back at the student. The student called him out on not answering the question and asked how to support current science students. We also need to support sports.

2:19

We are having a discussion about the need to support science students and varsity athletes. The union supports all our members, even the ones that don’t spend as much time on campus.

2:30

#zonedout sorry guys I missed a question. One point is that as King’s looks at academic programming we need to remember that what makes us special and will us allowed to succeed is our unique program.

2:36

We can look for all the students we want, but numbers of young people are going down. She likes the idea of non-credit courses for adults and retired people. They want to know more. Cooper is talking about publishing houses. He said there is a guy with an MBA who is figuring this stuff out. He thinks we have potential for intellectual summer boot camps. The Institute of Corporate Directors trains people how to be corporate directors. We can do programs like that during the summer. The student followed up by saying we should offer certificate programs so that our more theoretical programs have a clear, practical end. The theoretical philosophical degrees don’t appeal to everybody. Cooper said that when people are looking for employees they ask: can they think, can they write, are they good team members. Specific knowledge is lower on the list. Cooper said we should add practical things onto our philosophical offerings.

2:43

A student thanked Mr.Cooper for recognizing the financial hardship of the province of Nova Scotia. She said this is something that is often ignored in council and finds that hurtful. The student then asked what we are doing to help with retention, not just increasing ennoblement?Cooper said we have hired a grammarian to help students with essays. If students are struggling and not attending class the professor will “metaphorically give the students a hug.” It is important to get our faculty to support our students intellectually and emotionally. They should get to know the students so that they can know when they are struggling.

2:50

A student said that freezing or decreasing tuition needs to be top of mind for administrators. Bursaries and scholarships are good, but we need to lower fees. If you can’t do this, we want specific reasons why. King’s is a community based on respect. Doing an academic overview is disrespectful. Increasing fees is disrespectful to students. We blame external reasons for our situation. Who is accountable for mistakes made in management? What cuts are the administration taking in this? What are you saying in the MOU negotiating room/do you represent us?

2:54

Cooper: “I don’t see an end coming anytime soon of some kind of fee increase. It would be dishonest of me to say otherwise.” “It’s like buying an ice cream cone — it’s going to go up a nickel a year.” “You say the money should come from government. I agree with you.” He said a decision needs to be made by the voters what percent of education should be a public good and what should be a personal investment. Fitzpatrick said we should put a high degree of hope in increased government grants. Fitzpatrick said King’s has the lowest administration costs in the province. He is non-apologetic for these staff. Neither of them fully answered the questions.

3:01

A student says International students cannot be equated with a sum of money. We charge them a lot and don’t provide many supports. This is exploitative. Why is there the assumption that we will continue to attract these students? Coop says “I agree with you 100%.” If international students paid the same as Canadian students we’d still want them because it brings diversity of experience to the province. He also says we have not been good at embracing international students. We’ve got to do more to welcome international students. He calls on the student union to come up with a proactive program to welcome students.

3:09

Michaela Sam thanked Cooper and Fitzpatrick. Cooper said he is always happy to meet with us. Fitzpatrick said my door is always open except when it’s closed.

3:10

Holy change of pace. Back to regular agenda items.

We are voting on giving the Dal/King’s swimming society $268.74. We’re amending it to $60.66 because it was a little heavy on the pizza, and we can give money for winter stuff next term. It passed.

3:16 adourned