Governance will present bylaw changes at semi-annual general meeting to introduce new position
Christine Beyleveldt // News Editor
Mature Capilano University students could soon gain representation. On Nov. 17, the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU)’s board of directors voted to allow their governance committee to draft bylaw changes to incorporate a mature students liaison. Currently, women, queer, First Nations, international and students of colour are represented by liaisons, who organize events for their collectives and advocate on their behalf.
“We’d most likely be seeing the formation of a Mature Students Collective,” said Owen Sigurdsson, vice president equity and sustainability. The liaison would be responsible for overseeing their cohort, regularly meeting with students in that cohort, advocating for them and organizing events. Preliminary discussions took place on the Social Justice Committee and the proposition of incorporating a new liaison position was well received, with a few concerns about how it would affect the structure of the committee. Sigurdsson, as well as the liaisons, are mandated to sit on the social justice committee, which at nine members is currently bigger than any other CSU committee.
CapU recently lowered the minimum age a student must be to qualify as a mature student from 20 to 19 years old, and also removed the requirement that mature students be out of high school or post-secondary for at least two years. In order to qualify as a mature student at registration, a student needs to be at least 19 years old and lack the minimum admission requirements for the program they wish to study.
The CSU, however, recommended their mature students liaison be of any age, as long as they consider themself a mature student. Sigurdsson explained they made this suggestion to the governance committee because not all students who have mature status will consider themselves mature students.
“Essentially someone who’s not fresh out of high school,” he said of the CSU’s ideal candidate, “Someone who’s been around for a little while and at least experienced the world for a little while or done other things to sort of feel that they can look at it from a more mature perspective.”
Elizabeth Meek, a Communications student in her 40s, believes that having a liaison to help older students navigate post-secondary would be beneficial. Even though she didn’t enrol at CapU as a mature student, she knows the feeling of returning to school after spending years away. At the time she wasn’t aware that she could apply as a mature student and by the time she found out she had already spent one semester back at school and no longer qualified. The difference between applying as a mature student and as a regular student, she said, was that as a mature student, the University wouldn’t have looked at her high school transcript and would have forgiven any prior low grades. “I know for me personally going back [to school] meant I had [kind of] failed at adulting and now was going to try and get it right,” she said.
The CSU’s Board of Directors recommended a mandate for the liaison to advocate for and support students who have children, who often have a hard time finding affordable daycare options or babysitters to watch their children while they attend class. Sigurdsson explained that it was not feasible to incorporate two new liaisons, but both demographics – mature students and students with children – could be represented by one liaison. “We decided that we would like both of those constituents to be represented within that group and as such, because that will be within the definition, we hope that it would encourage student parents to run,” he said. “Obviously not everyone who identifies as a mature student is a student parent, but I also think that heavier levels of maturity do come along with being a parent.”
The Governance committee will draft the necessary bylaw changes to incorporate a new liaison. At this point in time they hope to present these chances at the CSU’s semi-annual general meeting in the spring.