The first USC meeting of the year, which took place on Wednesday night, saw councillors discuss everything from a new student wellness centre to FOCO during the six-hour session.
New Western Wellness Centre
One of the most significant motions brought to council floor concerned a potential one-stop-shop facility for student physical and mental health support services. Western University had preliminary plans to renovate Thames Hall to create a new Western Wellness Centre, consolidating Student Health Services and Psychological Services into a single space. The motion asked the University Students' Council to support a referendum asking students to decide if they would be willing to add $40 to their annual ancillary fees for 10 years to help finance the $35-million renovation.
After some debate, the motion was shut down by council, with 67 per cent of the councillors opposing the referendum.
USC president Tobi Solebo, who seconded the original motion, said he was disappointed but understood councillors' concerns.
“It’s unfortunate. It was something that we were excited about, but council spoke very clearly that it’s something they don’t think students should have to pay for, and it is a very fair stance,” Solebo said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and see what else we can do for Western.”
USC and Western Student Senators collaboration
Eighty-nine per cent of councillors voted in favour of a memorandum of understanding between the USC and the Western Student Senators. The agreement lists several commitments for both parties to uphold, including monthly meetings between the USC vice-president and WSS chair. Other commitments include collaborating on joint projects, WSS presentations at council meetings and a $1,500 annual budget for WSS.
The annual budget will help fund promotional items for student outreach.
Some of these joint projects include the implementation of pass/fail courses and the introduction of an online database of course syllabi.
During the new business portion, councillors also discussed how they should respond to the homecoming changes made by Western administration last year.
Debate revolved around Homecoming issues like whether or not the USC should recognize the official Homecoming date and how they refused to call the event on that day "Homecoming."
Proponents argued that these decisions would reflect the student population. However, the discussion ended without councillors making any concrete plans. Notably, instead of USC representatives, Red Frogs, a volunteer organization, will be distributing food and water to students on Saturday.
Lastly, councillors elected a deputy speaker and Western's eight Ontario Undergraduate Students Alliance representatives.
The deputy speaker helps the speaker manage council proceedings. Corrine Codina, a Faculty of Social Science student, was chosen to be deputy speaker for the year.
The OUSA representatives will attend the two general assemblies this year, along with USC vice-president Landon Tulk. Those chosen to be the representatives this year are Megan Bietel, Danny Chang, Catherine Dunne, Hadia Fiaz, Mitchell Pratt, Pyung Ha Ryu, Inam Teja, Trevor Wright and Frank Ye.