Late Thursday afternoon, Provost Cheryl Regher released a statement outlining details of the upcoming Student Societies Summit, ending months of speculation on what the administration’s next steps would be as they attempt to resolve ongoing issues between various student societies. This Summit is also meant to facilitate discussion on the fee diversion conflict between the UTSU and student societies including Trinity College Meeting (TCM), the Engineering Society (EngSoc), and the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council (VUSAC).
The process is expected to involve multiple meetings, the process of scheduling the first meeting will begin next week. Professor Joe Desloges will act as Chair joined by three other faculty members and three representative from the administration. At least 23 student societies and associations are invited to attend the Summit, many of which are not directly involved in fee diversion. The summit will also include “student clubs, and other members of the university community.”
The Summit is formatted around two discussion questions focused on the democratic structure of student governments. The first asks students to consider the current policy structure with four representative student governments recognized by Governing Council, and “how can the sometimes distinct interests of divisional societies be supported and respected in a democratic manner?” The second asks: “What are the implications of these answers on the evolution of the democratic structures of the student governments or on fee support for the activities of the divisional societies?”
This Summit is the latest attempt by the administration to facilitate a resolution to the fee diversion conflict, having organized a mediation session in June. The session did not result in any change in bargaining position.
The statement notes that the Summit does not have the power to effect policy change, a power reserved for Governing Council. Instead, if it becomes necessary to undertake further analysis of these issues, the issues may be considered as part of a policy review. The administration originally asked each student society to submit the names of two representatives for this event by September 1, but extended the deadline to the end of this week.