The Students' Union Building (SUB) was built without load-bearing walls to facilitate renovations. In 2002, the thirty-five year old building underwent its most recent set of renovations to close in the outdoor courtyard, increasing the amount of indoor relaxation space. This area, complete with couches and a fire pit, is the perfect place for students to study and socialize with friends.
In 1910, when the Students' Council of the University of Alberta was formed, it was unique in Canada as a committee fostering "a spirit of self-government among the students". Since then, the Students' Union has grown into a $9 million organization and uses its impressive budget to manage student trust funds, host entertainment and educational events, run the Students' Union Building, and operate busienss units. Students' Council is the Students' Union's ultimate authority.
The Students' Council, consisting of 50 members, is the Students' Union's ultimate authority and works to implement the mandate outlined for it in the Post-Secondary Learning Act. According to the Act, Students' Council's mandate is to provide for the administration of student affairs at the University. Further, this Act notes that Students' Council is the proper conduit for communication between students and the Board of Governors.
Students' Council members must be elected by and from the members of the student organization as provided for in the Students' Council's bylaws. The University of Alberta Students' Council's members include the Speaker and the General Manager who are non-voting members, the President of the Students' Union, the four Vice-Presidents, the Undergraduate Board of Governors Representative, and 42 Faculty Councilors.
The Post-Secondary Learning Act is the Students' Council's constitution. Provisions within the Act for the creation of bylaws allow the University of Alberta's Students' Council to create its own legislation. Through bylaws, the Council develops and enforces rules related to the furthering of students' general welfare and of the University itself. The bylaws are related to governance, finance, elections, referenda, faculty associations, and access to information.
In addition to its bylaws, the Students' Council is governed by political and operating policies. The Executive Committee is mandated to implement political policies on current concerns and issues, while operating policies govern day-to-day operations for Students' Union staff.
To provide for the administration of student affairs at the University, Students' Council develops and manages a number of committees, including the Access Fund, Audit, Awards, Budget and Finance, Bylaw, Council Administration, Discipline, Interpretation and Enforcement Board (judiciary), Executive, External Policy, Grant Allocation, and University Policy Committees. Throughout the year, work of the various Committees allows Students' Council to expand its sphere of influence. Members of the Committees are appointed; they are not elected officials.
The Access Fund Committee administers a fund that offers financing for students who are having difficulties paying for their schooling. The bursaries are made available through Students' Union fees. This committee ensures that there is an appeals mechanism, recommends a budget for the fund, and advises the Students' Council about changes to legislation that could affect the Access Fund.
The Audit Committee is responsible for reviewing and investigating all Students' Union financial transactions and statements.
The Awards Committee receives, reviews, and decides upon applications for Students' Union involvement awards.
The Budget and Finance Committee, made up of seven voting members of the Students' Council, oversees the budget and makes recommendations about expenditures and project allocation.
The Bylaw Committee, composed of five voting members of the Students' Council, drafts bylaws and referendum or plebiscite questions.
The Council Administration Committee, consisting of five voting members of the Students' Council, oversees the Speaker and the Chief Returning Officer, as well as the way the Council operates under its legislative agenda. For example, the Committee advises the Students' Council about its structure and committees. This committee is empowered to amend, adopt, or rescind Standing Orders of Council.
The Discipline, Interpretation, and Enforcement (DIE) Board interprets and enforces the Students' Union's bylaws. This board is often required to meet during elections to act as a court and to rule on objections to decisions made by the Chief Returning Officer.
The Executive Committee manages the day-to-day operations of the Students' Union and coordinates its long-term strategy. The Executive Committee's broad powers allow it to act for other committees when required. The Executive Committee is composed of the President of the Students' Union, four Vice-Presidents, and the General Manager who does not have voting privileges.
The External Policy Committee makes recommendations to the Students' Council on political policies related to business entities and undergraduate tuitions. There are seven voting members of Students' Council on the External Policy Committee.
The Grant Allocation Committee, consisting of seven voting members of the Students' Union, creates grants from the Campus Recreation Enhancement, Legacy, Refugee Student, and Eugene L. Brody Funds and from student groups.
The University Policy Committee, made up of seven voting members of the Students' Council, receives and evaluates reports about Student Union Executive Committee on campus, non-tuition activities and makes recommendations to Students' Council regarding political policy on the business of academic and non-academic entities on campus (excluding undergraduate tuition).
Students' Council meets every other Tuesday between 6:00 and 10:00 p.m. These meetings are open to the public, except for certain in-camera sessions that take place when sensitive issues arise.
Student government, particularly one that represents 26,000 members and manages a budget of $9 million, provides an exciting and powerful learning opportunity.
To read more about the Students' Council, please visit the official website.