Shortly after an announcement that admissions to the Physical and Health Education program will be suspended, talks have begun concerning a potential merger between the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) and the Physical & Health Education and Kinesiology Student Association (PHEKSA).
Were a merger to occur, PHEKSA would become a sibling society of ASUS — meaning students who belong to PHEKSA would also belong to ASUS and would enjoy the benefits of both societies. The most recent version of the agenda for today’s ASUS Assembly contains a motion to add PHEKSA as a sibling society under the ASUS constitution.
While ASUS student leaders acknowledge the impact of the suspension, they say the idea arose from pre-existing conversations. ASUS President Brandon Jamieson confirmed to The Journal via an email statement that ASUS initiated conversations with the current and incoming PHEKSA executive about ways to reintroduce PHEKSA as a sibling society.
PHEKSA separated from ASUS three years ago after a referendum vote. Physical & Health Education and Kinesiology (PHE/Kin) students cited a perceived lack of value in the student fee they paid each year as motivation for the split.
Barriers to the merger include reinstating the ASUS fee and the timeline of the initiative, Jamieson said. In the event of an ASUS/PHEKSA merger, PHE/Kin students would be subject to the ASUS membership fee. The fee is currently set at $25.49 each year.
“We want students to be educated on the reintroduction of the fee and aware of it. We’re going to continue to do our best to educate and engage students in the process, while being conscious of the timing,” he wrote.
Jamieson added that though elements of the merger discussion were sparked by the recent suspension of admissions to the Physical and Health Education program, it’s not the sole or overarching reason.
“We believe that [PHEKSA’s] decision to leave in the first place was short sighted.
Not only did it restrict ASUS’ ability to work in collaboration with PHEKSA on advocacy issues, it prohibited any PHE/Kin student from volunteering or working at ASUS,” he wrote.
Jamieson said the topic has already been discussed at both the ASUS and PHEKSA Assemblies.
“We’re currently looking at the timeline for the rest of the year to see what is feasible, and what isn’t.”
“If our ultimate goal as a society is to better the lives of students, there is no reason we shouldn’t be working together, rather than apart.”
Lindsay Toth, PHEKSA President, told The Journal via Facebook messenger that “PHEKSA council recognizes the benefits of an ASUS-PHEKSA merger”. In her statement, however, she said discussions surrounding the merger were too short notice for the PHEKSA council.
“But after great discussion and deliberation, the council felt our students would deserve a referendum on the matter which we are unable to conduct in this short period of time, as this proposal was brought to us within the past three weeks,” she wrote.
The meeting agenda for today’s ASUS Assembly contains a motion that would make PHEKSA a sibling society under the ASUS constitution. The constitution specifies that “Any Society seeking recognition as a sibling society of ASUS shall do so in writing to the ASUS Assembly”.
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