McGill, News

Ferrier computer lab shut down, speaker resignation announced at AUS legislative council

On Sept. 27, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council met  for the second time this year to discuss a handful of topics, including equity training, new study spaces, and a commuter committee.

Speaker of Council Jason Barron resigns

At the start of the meeting, President Erik Partridge opened with news of Council Speaker Jason Barron stepping down for personal reasons. The AUS has put out an application for a new speaker and will appoint one in two weeks, according to Partridge.

This is the second AUS resignation this semester, with vice-president (VP) External Catherine Jeffery stepping down on Sept. 12.

Equity training now required for AUS departmental executives and senators 

AUS Council passed a motion  to amend the Equity Policy to require all AUS departmental executives and senators to undergo equity training. Equity commissioners Amisha Parikh-Friese and Chloe Kemeni introduced the motion, which requires staff to complete the course, taught by the equity commissioners before Saturday, Oct. 14. 

“We believe that, obviously, equity is the focal point and pillar for a respectful and functioning society,” Kemeni said. “The only way we can set a high standard is when everyone is trained, and trained properly.” 

Originally, the equity policy only required AUS executives—not departmental executives or senators—to be trained. The new equity training is required alongside the already mandatory consent training that all executives and staff complete. 

“I think [it’s] a good idea [to combine consent and equity training] and [it’s] definitely a possibility for the future,” Parikh-Friese said. “I think for this year, obviously that won’t happen, and that’s partially because the consent training is new this year, and also the equity training is new […but] I definitely think in the future […] some of those [trainings] could be combined.”

AUS computer lab in the Ferrier building will be discontinued

VP Internal Rebecca Scarra took the podium to address the use of the AUS computer lab spaces on the third floor of the Ferrier building and in the AUS lounge. With AUS’ laptop lending program serving students’ needs, desktop computers are no longer in huge demand.

“Right now, we have a computer lab up in Ferrier that has been significantly underutilized,” Scarra said. “Myself and a couple [of] other executives had a meeting with one of the building directors, and we have a request from IT to use this space [as offices….] However, we believe this space could be [more] beneficial to AUS students.” 

As an alternative to handing over the space to IT, Scarra proposed turning the computer lab into a group study space, which she pointed out that many other faculties have. Council was quick to pass this motion, with the AUS thus retaining its space in Ferrier. A use for the area will be decided in coming meetings.

“We sometimes need that [study] space, and we don’t necessarily have [a designated study area solely for Arts students],” Scarra said. “Additionally, this space could be allocated to departments or [for] meeting spaces.”

The beginnings of a committee for school commuters

Toward the end of the meeting, VP Academic Madeline Wilson moved a motion to strike a committee to serve the needs of off-campus commuters, which swiftly passed. 

“I think that the AUS should [create] the commuter support and engagement committee,” Wilson said. “I’ve noticed recently that commuter students and off-campus students are underrepresented in the AUS.” 

Wilson pointed to the Fall 2016 Enrolment Report, which shows that 51.7 per cent of McGill’s student body originates from Quebec. For such a large portion of the student body that commutes to campus every day, the needs of this population are often forgotten in student communities like the AUS.

“[A goal is to] make [commuters] feel more at home at McGill, which is ironic, but I’ve heard complaints, or concerns […] from off-campus commuter students,” Wilson said. “Hopefully, we’ll have a more solidified idea [of] what we want to do [next meeting].”

AUS Council will next meet on October 11 at 6 p.m. in Leacock 232.

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