Student senators’ voting rights were the big topic discussed at council last week.
Student senators currently are separate from council and only represent students on the university senate. However, they are encouraged to sit in on council meeting to participate in discussion to help bring students’ views to senate.
The discussion was brought up by UNBSU vice-president internal Jenn Connolly, who got the idea after a recent discussion with a student.
“I feel like if they were able to vote, it would give them more incentive to come to council, and be able to bring that message from the other councillors who talk to their constituents, to the senate.”
However not all councillors agreed. Some argued that senator voting would lead to issues of multiple representation.
“My biggest concern that if we were to give senators the voting right, is that they’re not just going to vote as senators,” said computer science representative Andrew Martel, noting at one point, non-faculty councillors weren’t allowed to vote.
“They’re also going to create additional votes for faculties which will deteriorate the current structure we have in place.”
Law councillor Oliver Gorman-Asal such a change would “delude” faculties’ voice on council.
“I think we’re deluding it away from what it’s really supposed to be about, which is about the different faculties and a few other categories . . . and a worry that the addition or more and more councillors who don’t belong to a specific group is going to change the background.”
University of Western Ontario, Mount Allison University and University of Prince Edward Island are a few of the schools where student senators have voting rights. However, UNBSU vice-president external Greg Bailey said that these schools have run into issues.
“You’ve got people who are voting on the affairs of the union, who are not voted members of the union. They are voting members of the university, even though they are students,” Bailey said.
However, science representative Mark Vangel, who was elected as a student senator next year, said that since the students voted for senators to represent them, senators should vote on council.
“I understand the senate an the Student Union are separate, but if you ask anybody who voted, I bet you nine out of 10 people won’t realize there is a difference between someone who represents a student on the Student Union and someone who reps a student on the senate. They understand that they’re probably two different things, but they are being represented,” Vangel said.
Vangel also suggested that the issue be brought into a student referendum, but Bailey disagreed. He said if students want to vote on council they should run for a position.
“I really don’t know if we want to go to referendum for governance and by-law purposes like that. This one’s fairly clear cut,” Bailey said. “I like what everyone else [has said] if you want to vote on council, you run for a council position. The senate is not a council position.”