By: Joe Lipovski
After a total of 2417 votes cast, Karen Velasco will return to the executive next year as President. Velasco, the only returning executive, will be joined by Alexis Flinkert, Emi Oke, and A.J. Jaruga as VPs student services, academic and external respectively.
“It feels surreal… I love building relationships,” said Velasco.
Velasco said starting with a new executive feels like a roller coaster of emotions. Velasco says communication is key for the executive team’s success. Now with the election results in, many senators had questions regarding the transition to next years executive council.
“We set our goals, next year’s executive may have completely different goals,” said Brenda Needham, outgoing Vice President Academic.
Needham said that the goals we successfully completed like the Peer Support Centre, we will leave to NAITSA staff. They are very capable and will guide the new executives into the future.
Senator Rick Guillaume asked if NAITSA would consider adding a new executive position.
Outgoing VP academic, Brenda Needham responded by saying that it would need to be discussed in the governance committee first. Needham said the executive team is holding off on changes like adding another executive, due to the announcement from the Ontario government’s decision to make student fees optional, which would include student association fees.
“Schools need their student association because they’re the ones that advocate for the students,” said Needham.
Chris Chelmick, NAITSA Executive Director, said Alberta has the strongest legislation toward student associations, and some provinces have no legislation at all. Alberta regulates how student associations are run, how they collect fees and how they report expenses.
In Alberta, student associations are required to be audited every year. If the Alberta government finds that a student association mishandled funds. The government may force the student body to elect a new student executive council.
Senators asked if NAITSA had a contingency plan if the Peer Support program doesn’t reach the desired number of student interest. Willow Shelley, outgoing VP student services, said she expects to get low interest for the first year. Shelley said if numbers don’t improve, NAITSA would make changes to their marketing strategies, before restructuring the program or repurposing the Peer Support office.
Shelley said NAITSA will not be paying for Peer Support for its first year. As the full amount of the program’s operating budget will be paid by Alberta’s post-secondary mental health grant. Shelley has been negotiating funds from this grant NAIT received since she took office.
Going forward, Karen Velasco explained that the new Smart Fare will take the place of stickers for U-Pass. ETS has been working on the Smart Fare system and plans to introduce it in 2020. The new system is supposed to replace bus passes and the U-Pass. Velasco said the NAIT One Card already has the same technology ETS plans on using. As a result, students will soon be scanning their NAIT I.D. to board buses and the LRT.