A Social Justice Centre might become the next University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union project. An ad-hoc committee is currently examining the need for and feasibility of such a centre, which would “advocate for greater racial and ethnic harmony and equality on campus,” according to a draft proposal for the centre.
Like the existing USSU centers — which include the Women’s, Pride, Food and Help centres — the Social Justice Centre would provide peer support for ethnic abuses, and work to raise awareness of issues on and off campus.
“The mandate is intentionally very broad at this point,” said USSU president Chris Stoicheff. This will enable the ad-hoc committee to determine what needs the centre could fulfill, if any.
Arts and science councillor Sara Waldbillig, business representative Alecia Nagy, St. Thomas More students Philomena Ojukwu and Galen Richardson and pharmacy and nutrition councillor Megan Boschman — also a longtime Oxfam member — invited USSU ratified social justice groups to their Feb. 1 meeting, and sent those groups a needs survey last week. World University Service of Canada and Campus for Christ attended the meeting.
“We wanted to prioritize the groups,” Waldbillig emphasized.
From these meetings, the committee will attempt to specify the needs of the social justice groups. These groups include the Biology Club, Israel on Campus and Amnesty International and the full spectrum between these groups.
Should a need be recognized, the committee will examine the financial feasibility of creating the group. Nagy’s experience as an Edwards School of Business student will be invaluable in this phase. Additionally, she sits on the USC operations and finance board, so is intimately aware of the financial element of the organization.
“Currently the estimate is that the SJC would cost between $33,000 and $40,000 per year to run. These estimates are based on what it cost to run our current centres,” Nagy specified.
The committee will meet with current centre coordinators next week to determine the costs of running those centers, and what needs coordinators feel are not currently being met.
USSU vice president operations and finance Scott Hitchings requested that the committee submit its decision by Feb. 10, to be included in preliminary budget talks for next year. The deadline is somewhat flexible, however, to allow appropriate research to be completed.