URSU hard at work
From a three-year strategic plan, to craft beer in the Owl
Over the summer months, the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) has been hard at work negotiating U-Pass, creating a strategic plan, and making changes to the Owl. U-Pass negotiations will finish at the end of September; however the implementation may take “several years, as (the city) has to purchase new buses.” Says URSU president Devon Peters.
Throughout the summer the executive went to several conventions, including a students union convention, which had 150 participants including a Harvard students union representative. According to Peters, the sessions were very informative.
“One was on how to create an authentic dialogue for mental health. It was very interesting to hear others’ experiences with students unions.” Stated Peters.
Early in the summer, URSU tackled issues that benefit from preplanning. The board voted for a by-election to fall on Oct. 6-8, and decided to hire the legal counsel of Kanuka Thuringer as a lower cost alternative.
Peters also noted that there are several changes coming to the Owl.
“In past years we booked maybe a week in advance, someone would show up and say we need the Owl. That doesn’t leave much time to promote these activities. This year we’ve booked Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays until the end of the year.” Says Peters.
Booking in advance will allow the events to be promoted more effectively. Wednesday nights will be trivia nights, and URSU has brought in the people from Lancaster’s to provide a high quality trivia night.
Thursdays will be home to the Canadiana concert series put on in collaboration with Rawlco and the CBC. This series will feature Canadian artists and be emceed by a CBC radio host, kicking off with a performance by Saskatoon’s Close Talker on September 24. Friday nights will feature cabarets put on by student societies. Peters notes this year cabarets will involve partnerships of two or three student societies. So instead of 100 people we get 200 or 300 people.
The Owl also will have ten varieties of beer on tap this year.
“We hear students; craft beer is here. It just takes a while to build those relationships.” said Peters.
Starting at their July 28 board meeting, many areas of concern were addressed by URSU. The board voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting a 2015-2018 Strategic plan.
“URSU has long operated on a year-by-year basis because people believed it was best not to tie the hands of future executives. However, that doesn’t lead to consistency or plans that span more than one year. This plan helps to set a vision,” said President Peters.
The plan aims to, “actively address the unique and changing needs of the students and services, enhance the university experience, improve the Owl, enhance the foundational structure of URSU, and improve the financial state of URSU.”
The board also passed a budget created in collaboration with the financial firm MNP. It is hoped that a collaborative budget will lead a better financial outcome in lieu of many years of losses for URSU. In another bid for income, the URSU signed a $2,500 contract to advertise in the university gym. Locker prices, which have “not seen a price increase in half a decade,” will also be increasing, according to the June 30 minutes. The proposal noted that URSU needs to find more revenue streams.
On Aug. 10, the board voted to install Lindy Whitehouse as CRO for the upcoming by-election. Currently, there are 11 vacant positions on the URSU board of directors.
“URSU feels it’s super important to get students voting in this next election,” says Vice president of external affairs Lynn Barber. “We have special polling stations from Oct. 5-8 for students to vote. You can vote for any riding so we have special ballots. All you need to do is fill out your information and the names of candidates.”
Prior to the special polls will be a Candidate fair Oct. 2, and a forum in which candidates will answer a variety of questions. Oct. 7 will involve a special elections Trivia Night at the Owl.
Finally, Oct. 19 will start with a pancake breakfast in the multi-purpose room, and finish with an Election results event at the Owl.
Barber also replaced the URSU V-Team (structured volunteer program) with a smaller social committee.
“It’s a lot smaller, but they have a lot more responsibilities, so they actually help plan and execute the events. We have five people on the committee.”
In their Aug. 25 board meeting, URSU gave $4,000 in funding to a U of R international student orientation event. The board also defeated a motion to fund the Women’s Centre to bring speaker Robin Sharma to the U of R and Conexus Arts Centre.