The University Students’ Council announced the new 2019-20 executive USC team and passed several motions related to restructuring executive elections and international student policy at their final meeting of the year Sunday.
Outgoing president Mitchell Pratt reflected on his time at Western, his involvement with the USC and highlights from the past year, including Purplefest and motions to address anti-Semitism on campus and support residence staff members. He emphasized the importance of every USC student leader communicating the USC's value to students given current challenges to student organizations.
Incoming USC president Bardia Jalayer announced Declan Hodgins and Nico Waltenbury as secretary-treasurer and communications officer respectively of the incoming executive team. Three candidates campaigned for the student programs officer position this year. After councillors heard from the candidates for a final time at the meeting, Cecilia Liu was chosen as SPO, completing the 2019-20 executive team.
Jalayer further addressed the unprecedented challenges facing the USC, considering recent changes to the provincial tuition framework.
“Let me be clear: your incoming executive and council will work tirelessly to elevate the student voice and perspective, while enhancing the educational experience and quality of life for all undergraduates at Western", said Jalayer. "Together, we will overcome the challenges we face and ensure, as we always have and always will, that our students have the power to change the world."
Further, the chairs of council’s standings committees each gave presentations highlighting the work of their committees over the past year.
The outgoing USC executive team gave a presentation to council regarding the proposed restructure of executive. Specifically, Pratt explained the restructure is a return to the previous election system where the USC president is elected at-large and the vice-president is elected by council.
“The overall goal of this initiative is to increase voter engagement and increase the number and diversity of candidates running in elections,” said Pratt. “We believe that the new system will improve our organization in a time when students are demanding relevance and accountability of their representatives.”
The motion passed with 98 per cent support from the outgoing councillors. The USC will release further details on this initiative in the coming days.
The outgoing USC executive passed several other motions. Specifically, a motion to see changes to the USC’s standing policy on international students passed unanimously. The changes address cultural and social transitions, academic transition, financial barriers and outreach.
A motion to amend the Clubs Governance Committee Terms of Reference also passed unanimously. The motion will see the seven voting undergraduate students-at-large on the committee elected annually by council, increasing the transparency and accountability of the positions. Council unanimously passed another motion for a new policy that sets mandatory guidelines for anyone conducting research or advocating for marginalized communities on behalf of the USC.
Finally, the incoming council approved five motions addressing the appointment of the 2019-20 USC auditors, ratification of the incoming Board of Directors, standing committee chair elections, ratification of the 2019-20 standing committees and ratification of the 2019-20 speaker of council. The incoming executive team will officially begin their role on May 1, 2019.