students’ union has accessed reserve funds to support their student employees
while the University of Saskatchewan campus is closed. The executive is also
currently reviewing ways to advocate for students’ needs amid the pandemic.
University Students’ Council meeting on March 12 was dominated by a sense of
uncertainty, as the councillors correctly anticipated that it would be the
last in-person meeting for the group this term. Among their preparations for
this eventuality, the council passed the annual budget for the U of S Students’
Union’s a week ahead of time and released $100,000 dollars from the union’s reserves.
fund will support the union’s less than full-time employees, including the
workers at Student Crew, Louis’ and Louis’ Loft. Most of these workers are
students that have hourly rates and no paid sick time, so they are left without
that source of income while the campus is closed.
involves a rapidly moving situation,” General Manager Caroline Cottrell said
ahead of the vote. “My concern is about our student workers because they are
our employees and … for some of them this is how they put food in their
workers have been receiving an amount reportedly similar to what they would
have usually made if the campus were open. They will only receive this support
until the end of the academic year in April, when their jobs would have ended
under normal circumstances. The USSU is not currently planning to hire for the
spring and summer months.
knowledge, there is no foreseen end to this pandemic and there is no foreseen
end to the measures the university has taken,” said USSU President Regan
Ratt-Misponas in an interview with the Sheaf. “There is a wonderful
incoming executive that I know will be able to ensure that there are good
outcomes and that we’re able to hire students, hopefully, as things return to
normal come September.”
While the closure of campus
locations like Louis’ Loft and Louis’ Pub affects the USSU’s finances, they
have just under half a million dollars in their liquid reserve and business
interruption insurance. Though the remaining USC meetings have been
cancelled, the executive and senior staff have continued to manage the union’s
operations and finances through online meetings and votes.
Ratt-Misponas says that
advocacy has been a frequent topic in the executive’s recent meetings.
“We need to ensure that
students have a sense of protection and that students aren’t punished for
these difficult times that we’re in,” Ratt-Misponas said. “In our ongoing
conversations with the administration we continue to lobby and in the coming
days, I think that there’ll be more to expect.”
There has been recent movement
online from U of S students pushing for the university to implement a pass/fail
grading system, following the example of other Canadian universities. Ratt‑Misponas
says the executive is not currently making a statement as they learn more
about the situation.
“We’re educating ourselves right now about things that different institutions are doing, but we’ve also been able to have conversations with the administration,” RattMisponas said. “It has been encouraging — I’m glad that other folks are also taking on efforts to advocate for their fellow students, especially during these times.”