On August 28, several members of Students’ Council will attempt to introduce a new committee to the Students’ Union, called the Social and Environmental Responsibility Committee (SERC). Mike McGinn, a student representative from the Faculty of Arts, is among the students leading the push to create the SERC, which according to a terms of reference sent to Students’ Council on Wednesday August 22, would report to the executive committee and provide recommendations to them.
Among the aims of the committee would be to aid the SU in being socially and environmentally responsible in “administrative, political, and business arenas,” and to ensure that the SU “serve as a model of global citizenship for students.” Moreover, the committee of students and Students’ Union employees would review “various components” of the SU through a social and environmental “lens” and then provide a set of recommendations.
In an e-mail interview with McGinn, he writes that the word lens “refers to the shifting of the focus, a change in the perspective. Currently, the SU has no formal structures that strictly focus on its environmental and social efforts and this committee will fill this void. It’s a change of focus from considering the three pillars of sustainability (environment, economics, and society) separately to seeing them in relation to each other, in a mutually complementing manner.”
For those with only a sliver of knowledge about Students’ Council, the executive committee is formed of the five student executives (the President and four VPs) and a non-voting General Manager. It generally discusses the operational aspects of the Students’ Union – that is, the internal workings of the ten million dollar and near 300-employee organization. Students’ Council, on the other hand, is the overarching body of the Students’ Union, to which the five executives report. Rather than concern itself with operational issues within the organization (which are generally the concern of a variety of managers, coordinators and directors), Council discusses and votes on political issues (tuition fees, elections procedures, provincial and federal lobbying, etc.).
McGinn believes that the SERC can “fulfill its mandate under the executive [committee] by providing information, advice and recommendations to the executive, which will then take them to the council to make a decision in conjunction.”
Whether the SERC moves beyond a terms of reference to a SUB boardroom remains to be seen, but the answer should be provided on August 28 at Students’ Council.