Both parties are reasonably optimistic
By Tristan Johnston [staff writer]
Though many students may remember coming to the KPIRG general meeting earlier in the semester for pizza and democracy, they have since had some trouble reaching an official autonomy agreement with the KSA. The negotiations may soon be over.
“Things are looking good, really really good,” says Richard Hosein of KPIRG. “We’ve got most of the things we wanted, if not all of it. The main concern with the KSA was ‘what are the measurable areas of performance on our end?’ but since we’re a social justice organization, things are very fluid and flexible in that realm. We couldn’t foresee a year previous to now that things like Ferguson would pop up, the Burnaby Mountain protests and those sorts of things that we’re normally reactionary towards.”
“We’ve decided that our measurable items are governance items like sticking to the constitution and bylaws, making sure we’re providing audited financial statements to the membership, which are things that we have to do anyways, according to the Society Act.”
The Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group is a relatively new social justice organization on campus.
Hosein says that although KSA council agreed to sign the autonomy agreement several months ago, there were some issues with some of the terms and clauses in the agreement that were not favourable to KPIRG. He adds that the clauses created too much oversight for the KSA as an independent organization from KPIRG, particularly in areas of governance and finance.
“They just wanted to accept some oversight. They wanted to do our financial oversight, for numerous reasons,” says Hosein. “[It] didn’t sit well with us, because it doesn’t leave us as an autonomous organization. The referendum question was, ‘Do you agree to have an independent KPIRG on campus?’”
Overall, Hosein was optimistic about the progress the group had made with the KSA.
Some issues Hosein had with the agreement included a two-year term, which in his eyes would have “put a shelf-life on us.”
KSA vice-president of student services Stephen Button was the lead KSA member in discussions with KPIRG. “Pending a review from our lawyer, we may have hit on an agreement that both KPIRG and the KSA feels is appropriate,” says Button. “At the moment, I’m waiting to hear back from our lawyer for confirmation that ‘yep, it looks solid’ and pending that we’ll be sending it to council in January. If the agreement goes forward as Richard and I have agreed on at this point, then I’ll be in favour of it.” Button notes that discussions with KPIRG have been in progress since April: “I am very optimistic as well.”
Erik Wirsching, vice-president of student life for the KSA was also optimistic. “Just watching the emails going back and forth, it seems like, last time I talked to [Hosein], it seemed that all the things they had been concerned about have been resolved. So, I hope we’re on our way to a mutually agreeable situation. It’s great that we have [Hosein] on one end, Steven [Button, KSA vice-president of student services] on the other: level-headed, but legally savvy individuals. I trust that they will figure it out, and once our lawyer sees the final copy, we’ll be good to go.”