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On November 5, the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) Organizational Review and Development Committee hosted a virtual Town Hall through Zoom. This Town Hall presented the opportunity for students to engage in a preview of policy updates, discuss the direction of the TCSA and contextualize for the November 22 Annual General Meeting. Here is what you need to know:
1: A New Position on the Board
The Trent Association of Black Students (TABS) is seeking to create a position on the board of directors that will always hold a Black student. Moriah Hillyer, the TCSA’s Racialized Student Commissioner, states, “Having a Black Student Rep, as well as a Racialized Commissioner, is going to be better for the TCSA and it should’ve always been there… The position will be appointed by TABS. The main roles (of the Black Student Representative) are supporting Black students, advocating for them, working with Black student groups on campus and the community [and] working with Black Lives Matter Peterborough and Race Relations.”
2: By-Law Thirteen: Extension to the TCSA Elections
The TCSA has presented an amendment that would extend the electoral period for the TCSA spring General Election and fall By-elections. Administration and candidates find the current one-month period to be compressed (i don’t like the word compressed but it’s what Matt Seaby used repetitively). It has been suggested that the TCSA consider using four weeks in February for the General Election registration and four weeks after Labour Day for the By-election registration. The TCSA is also considering extending the voting period from the “three to five day” duration to a “five to seven day” duration to give students more time to cast ballots. These election amendments will be voted on at the Annual General Meeting and need a two thirds majority to pass.
3: By-Law Four: The Removal of Supplemental Service Fees
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning, Trent students’ demand for public transit has dropped. An amendment presented by the TCSA seeks to waive the $303.47 fee that is usually automatically charged to students for transit. Transit services would be paid for by the transit budget surplus. The supplemental service fees include Clubs and Groups funding, Health and Dental benefits and Grocery Assistance. This amendment allows students to opt out of supplemental fees.
The optics of this amendment resemble the controversial Student Choice Initiative presented by the Provincial Government in the 2019 fall semester, however the context is different. TCSA President Ann-Majella McKelvie stated, “financial concerns brought on by the pandemic were a big piece of student feedback that we received this year and we want to make sure that we help our students however we can while still providing the services they expect. Part of the reason that we are able to do this is because of the service cancellations that started in March of last year (buses were cancelled because of COVID-19 and the university’s closure). We saved enough money in our annual Transit Budget that we can now support the service until the next academic year. We will need the fee to resume for 2021, but until then if we can save students money we want to provide that support.”
4: Nimbus Tutoring
Online classes present new academic challenges to students. Trent has partnered with Nimbus Tutoring to provide academic support to students. The TCSA Operation and Service Manager, Tracy Milne, stated, “the Nimbus App is a tutoring, online app, (where) you can connect with Trent students as well as alumni. Over 108 courses have a tutor assigned to it… We are doing promotions by giving away tutoring credits. One promotion we gave $15 tutoring credits to twenty five students and we are going to repeat that in December.” Nimbus tutors are vetted and prices range based on the tutor.
Many students still have in-person exams in December and they are concerned about COVID-19 safety protocols in exam halls. Tracy Milne stated, “the big exams are going to be broken up throughout the day. In an exam where you would normally have a hundred people write there are going to be smaller groups split up through the entire day. So the actual service necessary for the busses is not as impactful as it would normally be. So I would suggest that the exam schedule is not as impactful as it would normally be.”
6: Board Composition
Currently each College Cabinet has three seats on the TCSA that include the President of the College, the TCSA College Commissioner and the Senior Senator. However only the College Commissioner position possesses voting power. The TCSA is considering giving voting power to all three positions. Luke Whale, College Commissioner from Lady Eaton College, stated, “every time there is a vote, I have to go through a mental process of what's best for the TCSA, what’s best for LEC and what’s best for the cabinet of LEC and I have to combine those votes when I really would much rather be able to focus on the students to ensure that they are getting the full representation that they deserve instead of me having to represent them and a separate elected body in those meetings.” Board composition will not be presented as an amendment at the Annual General Meeting but the executive team will continue to consider a restructuring of the board.