Trading the old for the new
By Dave Yasvinski
The University Students' Council overwhelmingly voted to pass its new discrimination and harassment prevention policy at last night's council meeting.
The policy immediately replaces the USC's previous race relations policy and helps ensure council members do not act in a discriminatory manner. "It affects all members of the USC and anyone with relations with the USC when acting in that capacity," said Jennifer Quick, legal affairs officer for the USC.
Quick said the new policy encompasses the previous race relations policy and expands it to cover more ground. "I'm happy with the final result. This is a good thing for the USC. It shows we as a council and a corporation aren't just going to sit back and worry about things when they happen."
The policy passed relatively intact, except for the exclusion of a clause which would recognize the USC's responsibility to "develop positive values, attitudes, knowledge and practices among students, staff, governing bodies and the community."
Michael Rubinoff, undergraduate Board of Governors representative for the USC, said he raised the amendment to delete this clause from the policy because this should not be the USC's job. "I don't believe it's our role to tell students what their values and attitudes should be. I don't think we have the power to do it nor can we define it within our body," he said.
Pete Hill, VP-campus issues, said while he was sorry to see the clause taken out, it would not have a huge effect on the policy. "I feel it's unfortunate, but it wasn't a clause that will majorly affect the intent of the policy. The most instrumental components are still in there."
Hill said he has worked towards implementing this policy for the past seven months and is happy with the way it turned out. "I'm glad for the USC as a whole that this policy has been brought forward. It reflects all the aspects of an equitable and diverse environment.
"It's one of the important things I wanted to get done," he added.
A proposed amendment change which failed would have made council and not the USC's Board of Directors responsible for dealing with discriminatory complaints.
"I think the Board should try to stay separate from issues of discrimination and harassment," said Jeff Clayman, student senator and president of the Jewish Students' Union. He added, however, council voted in support of the Board.
"I think council passed a motion they felt was complete. [Council] has confidence in the Board to remain unbiased," Clayman said.
All in all, it is a good policy, Clayman added. "I think the USC needed something like this it's great."