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All eyes were on transit in the agenda of the TCSA's September 17th BoD meeting. Graphic: Evan Robins

Back to Business for Trent's Central Student Association

Written by
Evan Robins
and
and
September 17, 2023

Editor's Note: This article has been updated as of September 28th to more accurately reflect the statements of the General Manager as to the specific companies with which the Association shares contacts and could discuss replacing ATU staff.

Back to Business for Trent's Central Student Association
All eyes were on transit in the agenda of the TCSA's September 17th BoD meeting. Graphic: Evan Robins

Chair Robert Monico called the September 17th meeting of the Trent Central Student Association’s Board of Directors to order at 1:01 PM, on Zoom. The BoD gathered for the first time this academic year since their last regular meeting on March 12th to discuss developments over their summer session, and fill the Association’s committee positions for the remainder of their term.

Following a reading of the Association’s Land & Labour Acknowledgement, Monico offered Chair’s remarks calling on Directors to—in the words of Aldo Leopold—“think like a mountain.” He clarified that it would be beneficial for the association to see themselves as part of a holistic ecosystem rather than focusing solely on individual “trees, birds, and so on,” and to “remember to see the Association and the university as a whole.”

The meeting’s agenda was approved unanimously, as were previous minutes for publication, with Lady Eaton College Prime Minister Noah Edwards clarifying whether this would mean minutes and relevant documents for the past three meetings of the board over the off-season—as of yet unpublished—would be made public, which Association Resource Manager Wendy Walker verbally confirmed.

Following these items, Members of the Association Executive presented their respective Executive Reports for the intervening period.

VP University and College Affairs Juman Zanzoul spoke about the Association’s O-week events, including the distribution of Welcome Bags, Sexy Trivia, and the “Get the Tea on Your Union Event,” which she called “a vital event, as it gave the union that direct connection on campus.”

VP Zanzoul also highlighted the role of the Association’s “Great Race” collaboration with Trent International to “foster unity and community between domestic and international students,” who each attend separate Orientation events.

Over the summer the Association held a number of events—both for undergraduate students and for Association directors—such as a chartered trip to Treetop Trekking Ganaraska. The Association board also attended the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) Annual General Meeting, held “Let’s Get Political Training” facilitated by Association President Aimee Anctil, partook in the The President/Vice-President Executive Committee (PVP) and held an internal Board Retreat for Association Directors and Executive.

Speaking about her committee appointments, VP Zanzoul highlighted Orientation Leader compensation and Fossil Fuel Divestment as two of her primary aims, alongside implementation of Academic Triage Training in coordination with Gzowski College President Melanie Buddle.

Alexx Bodden, VP Campaigns & Equity, was next to present her executive report, starting with a highlight of her involvement in CFS committees and planning for the Federation’s November 8th “National Day of Action.”

VP Bodden further detailed her involvement in the Trent FoodService Advisory Committee, which is overseeing the transition to contactless service in the Bata Bean and other on-campus foodservice locations. Going forward, the Bean will offer “extended hours using AI, supported only by the BOOST app,” with staff overseeing a transition period of a couple weeks.

With the ‘76 Sips Cafe having closed as of June 9th, the latest occupant of the Athletic Centre location to have done so, the advisory committee is equally looking to source a vendor as its replacement.

VP Health & Wellness Bri Policicchio discussed her involvement with the PVP in putting forward concerns about Food Insecurity and Harm Reduction.

Policicchio is seemingly making harm reduction a central part of her tenure as VP, planning to host a Harm Reduction Fair on September 26th, which will include the distribution of “Party Safer Kits” containing drug testing equipment and “Nightcap®” drink-spiking prevention scrunchies.

In tacit admission that previous year’s Head of the Trent Regatta’s have left Peterborough—especially the area around London street, which features extensive student rental housing—in a state of disarray, VP Policicchio detailed plans to work with Trent University Associate Vice President Students Lawrence Lam to “[make] sure our community is repaired.”

The Association will organize efforts overseen by AVP Lam to clean up the area surrounding London Street following HOTR weekend, and will distribute coffee and doughnuts to students who attend.

The reception of Executive reports concluded with a President’s Report from Association President Aimee Anctil. President Anctil detailed measures taken “which supported the General Manager’s work within the Transit Liaison Committee (TLC),” whose report was received by City Council in General Committee on Tuesday, September 11th.

President Anctil also met with Trent University President Leo Groarke on August 14th to present her “Demand Omnibus,” presented from findings from the as-of-yet-unpublished “Excaliburnt Out Report.” She equally detailed efforts to write a letter to the provincial government demanding measures be taken against “the privatization of post-secondary education,” and encouraged those in attendance at the BoD interested in collaborating on such a project to reach out.

Aside from a number of miscellaneous updates, including increasing security at Traill College, the possible installation of bus monitors at the Bata Bus Loop, and an accessibility check to be conducted on the student centre, President Anctil detailed plans to create a policy book for a prospective Student Staff Union.

Specifics as to what this might entail and who it might represent remain scant—markers, instructors, teaching assistant, and academic student workers at Trent are already unionized under the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 3908, and Compass Group-employed Foodservice workers under CUPE 3205—thought President Anctil indicated a desire to reach out to Trent Student Housing Employees through the project.

With the Executive Reports received unanimously, the Board received an elections update from Association Resource Manager Wendy Walker. Walker announced that with nominations open until the end of the month for the Fall 2023 By-Elections, she had been organizing outreach events and received positive responses from undergraduate students.

Walker added that she had tentatively scheduled a Meet the Candidates event for Thursday, October 5th, saying “I’m just waiting on some candidates to register so I can get a gauge on that.”

Following LEC Prime Minister Noah Edward’s notice to the Board that the LEC Cabinet TCSA liaison position was currently vacant, Walker added that she would be happy to help college cabinets with organizing their elections if so desired.

As of September 17th, the positions of Off-Campus Commissioner, Mature Students Commissioner, Racialized Students Commissioner, Senate Liaison, Students with Disabilities Commissioner, Black Students Commissioner, and Part-time Students Commissioner remain vacant.

Next on the agenda was the appointment of Association Directors to Committee positions for the coming year. As noted by Wendy Walker, the Association has an obligation to nominate several dozen appointees to various university and internal committees.

“We can’t move forward with the agenda until we’ve done this,” she told attendees. As discussions broke out among Directors and Executives, Walker helpfully identified committees which presented a “low-commitment,” to BoD members. “They maybe meet twice a year,” Walker told one Director, of the Campus Card Committee.

Upon the completion of committee appointments, the Board moved onto an item presented by LEC Cabinet Prime Minister Noah Edwards—a discussion of the recently-presented Transit Liaison Committee plan.

PM Edwards detailed, for the benefit of Association Members having not attended the September 11th General Committee meeting, the parameters of the TLC’s report and its implications for transit and the Association’s student mandate.

“I’ve seen a lot of demand on transit this year,” Edwards noted. “More so than other years beforehand.” The “self-appointed transit guy” added that he ahd “seen drivers stop picking up people because people haven’t moved far enough back on the bus” on multiple occasions.

Edwards thereafter turned the floor over to Association General Manager Tracy Milne, who explained to the BoD that “goal [of the TLC] was to present to city council at the end of the summer with recommendations on how to improve ridership, because ridership was the primary concern of council.”

Milne indicated that despite the motion still needing to pass final approval on September 25th, she is confident in the resolution as it stands. “I don’t anticipate that it won’t pass,” she told Board Meeting Attendees.

“I’ll let it be known that my community hat was mostly on during these talks, because there were a few bigger considerations like the budget,” Milne told attendees, adding that “[her] Trent hat will be firmly on going forward.”

Addressing the TCSA’s transit interests, Milne added that she would like to see increased service to Trent University, possibly including the potential for charter service to and from campus. “We cannot increase the times and the number of runs if we don’t have enough drivers on the road,” she noted, stressing the importance of transit investment. “Hopefully we can come together—both Trent, TCSA, and the City—to implement something at Trent campus which is different to what it is now.”

While the TCSA pays a discounted yearly contract with the city for the transit passes with which Trent Students are provided, the bulk of the proposed TLC changes would be financed by the tax rate increase to municipal taxpayers.

While many of the proposed changes represent potential service improvements to Trent students, no mention was made by any Staff or Board Members of a renegotiation of the transit contract. Considering many of the dissenting voices at the September 11th Council meeting cited students not paying their share of the transit budget, despite transit being disproportionately tailored to suit them, this would seem to raise questions about the stability of this agreement going forward.

Further, Milne noted that with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1320 entering labour negotiations with the City, it might be prudent for the Association to make preparations for a possible strike. While she indicated that “my fingers are crossed that a strike will not occur,” Milne indicated that “if something like that were to occur, my feeling is that the TCSA’s and Trent’s hands would be very tied.”

While professing sympathy towards the ATU, Milne attested that the Association has “contacts,” in other transit authorities who could be contacted to service Trent University students, replacing ATU-unionized Peterborough transit workers in the event of a potential strike—a practice colloquially known as “scabbing”.

While Milne indicated that such a course might ease the difficulty presented in commuting Trent University students to campus from downtown, she worries that “we will never be able to reach the level of [demand].”

Concluding discussions, PM Edwards moved a motion “That the recommendations in City Report IPSTR23-004 be supported in principal,” which passed upon a vote by the Board.

As Chair Monico called for the presentation of Any Other Business, PM Edwards stressed his support for the ATU, and implored other BoD members to do the same. “I know last year we did the thank you campaign, though I think an even better thank you would be to support the ATU during their labour negotiations,” Edwards told the Directors present.

With Association Services Manager and former Association President Zoe Litow-Daye not in attendance, Association Resource Manager Wendy Walker read their prepared report in absentia. Walker indicated that the Association had “done a lot of hiring over the summer,” spotlighting the hiring of new Community Coordinator Aditi Sharma after Ashley DeBeyer’s vacation of the position over the summer.

Walker also announced that the Association had procured a new deep freezer for their “One-Stop Chop” food pantry, which according to Walker, “averaged 20–30 appointments this week.” General Manager Tracy Milne added “per day,” in chat, presumably in reference to this number, though no further clarification was provided.

No mention was made of reports of undue surveillance, profiling, and food scarcity by students accessing the pantry this summer.

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