ABCS meeting adopts “Vision 2020”
Let no one accuse the Alliance of British Columbia Students (ABCS) of being entirely defunct. On May 14th and 15th the fledgling student group met at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus for its annual general meeting. In addition to hearing from presenters and going through workshops, students at the meeting adopted Vision 2020, a policy document for the years to come.
Small meeting highlights declining membership
The ABCS once declared itself the largest student group in British Columbia, which was arguably true for a time. Now, the organisation has just five member schools, some of which engage very little in the group at all. The Langara Students’ Union, for example, could scarcely be called an active students’ union in its own right and does no policy or campaign work in any significant way. Most of the largest schools that were affiliated or helped with campaigns, UBC AMS, the University of Victoria UVSS, and the Simon Fraser University SFSS, have exited the group for various reasons.
In past years, annual general meetings of the ABCS were nearly celebratory in discussion and pride in the newly formed organisation. Elected students from various affiliated schools took group selfies and the students’ unions tweeted about the meetings. However, at this meeting the group tweeted a photo of their annual general meeting that showed about 15 attendees. The Kwantlen Student Association and the Capilano Students’ Union, the leading schools in the ABCS, were mostly silent on the meeting in social media.
Previous annual general meetings
Since its inception, the ABCS has been marred with financial issues. The group has not found a workable solution to the year-to-year inconsistency of student organisations, which is evident in the minutes of previous annual general meetings.
“Some members expressed concern over the absence of the Langara Student Union and the Royal Roads University Student Association in the list of owed expenses, but these are doubtful accounts as the LSU has not been an active participant, and as the RRUSA does not exist.” – Minutes of the November 15, 2015 annual general meeting of the ABCS
“Discussion on CSU and BCITSA will not be able to pay fees as stipulated in the main motion, given that their budget does not align as ABCS’ physical year.“(sic) – Minutes of the January 31, 2015 annual general meeting of the ABCS
The decline of the ABCS is reflected clearly in its annual general meeting minutes, some of which are available on their website. Financial troubles, waffling members of the board of directors, and inactive students’ union members have all contributed to the groups inability to build.
“The organization is owed $6,186.46 from a number of student societies, but also owes $10,049.71 to both member student societies and former members. There is $2,027.30 in the account. … The focus, at the present time, should be maintaining enough of a bank balance to “keep the lights on.”” – Minutes of the November 15, 2015 annual general meeting of the ABCS
Though there are motions to adopt campaigns and policy positions in some of the ABCS annual general meeting minutes, there isn’t much to prove this translating to real work for students who pay into the group. While the ABCS held a lobby week in 2016 at the legislature in Victoria, the British Columbia Institute of Technology Student Association and Camosun College Student Society also held a lobby week in the same semester. The biggest lobby victory earned by students in the 2015-2016 academic years was legislation requiring schools to have sexual assault policies, which was nearly single handed the work of the University of Victoria Student Society (who left the ABCS).
Although it was announced that the ABCS adopted its Vision 2020 document at the meeting, none of the documents or the Vision itself is available online. The ABCS declined to share the information when asked. The Western Student will provide coverage of Vision 2020 when it is released.