SHRC will become SGPS club next year

After examining insurance, AMS pressured SHRC to make a decision about its future with little time to spare

The Sexual Health Resource Centre (SHRC) executive found out on March 13 they had to decide whether they would become an SGPS club or an AMS service next year — and they were only given 72 hours to do it.

Before the SHRC decided to become an SGPS club on Tuesday morning, it faced pressure to make a quick decision regarding its uncertain future.

The AMS had decided to seek a change to its constitution that would amend section 7.02.08 to read, “Clubs shall not be primarily revenue generating entities or have revenue generating activities through the sales of goods and services as a substantial part of their mandate excluding fundraising for third-party charitable organizations.”

Among the clubs considered primarily revenue-generating was the SHRC.

The AMS was seeking to pass the change prior to the end of the year, at AMS Assembly on March 19, where the motion ultimately passed.

Claire Cathro, the AMS Commissioner of Internal Affairs, said the clubs office had been working to identify “areas of risk relating to our insurance” and the issue of revenue-generating clubs was only brought to their attention in “the last few weeks”.

She added that the change responds to a “lack of regulation” around clubs’ revenue generating activities, specifically “quality control and business licensing”.

Because constitutional changes require two readings, the motion had to be put forward at the March 19 Assembly. Cathro said the AMS acted as quickly as it could to meet with the SHRC.

Doulton Wiltshire, SHRC executive director, said members of the executive received an email from Clubs Manager James Barsby on March 9, asking for a meeting.

They weren’t told exactly what the meeting would be about, she said — the email said there was an issue with their re-ratification package and “they’d like to have a meeting to help us move”. This miscommunication led Wiltshire to believe the meeting would be related to the SHRC’s need to eventually move its space, as its current space will become an elevator in a few years under the JDUC revitalization plan.

“It wasn’t clear that it was that dramatic of a change that would need to be made until we were in that meeting,” she said.

The incoming and outgoing directors and assistant directors met with Cathro, Barsby, AMS Vice-President of University Affairs Philip Lloyd, Social Issues Commissioner Emily Wong and Student Centre Officer Troy Sherman on March 13.

At the meeting, three options were presented to the SHRC: become an AMS service under the Social Issues Commission, become an SGPS club or leave the student governance structure entirely. Lloyd presented the issues with the insurance.

Wiltshire said no one present at the meeting could tell them what would happen to their mandatory $1 student fee from the AMS if the SHRC chose to become an SGPS club. Cathro told the Journal she’d said at the meeting the fee would be continued next year, but would have to go to referendum to continue in 2016-17.

Wiltshire said the meeting largely revolved around potential HR changes.

“I don’t think they had a very good idea of the implications to the centre either,” she said.

The SHRC was asked to make its decision by March 16 at noon.

Given the doubt about what would happen to the SHRC’s services — including accompaniment to abortion procedures and for sexual assault survivors — and its product selection, as well as concerns around the SHRC’s nature as a confidential and anonymous service, Wiltshire said the short timeline was “very concerning”.

Wiltshire said the SHRC had been clear it wouldn’t be able to meet the Monday deadline because they’d only be able to meet with their volunteers Monday night — and when the deadline passed, they began receiving emails asking whether they’d made their choice. She said that on Tuesday morning, she received messages stating that someone who’d been present at the meeting said the AMS needed to “intimidate the hell out of” the SHRC.

“I don’t think that that’s representative of everyone on the AMS, but [Tuesday] morning we had not yet made a decision — that was not great to hear,” Wiltshire said.

Ultimately, the SHRC made the decision to become an SGPS club.

“The SGPS has been extremely supportive of our mandate and the work we do,” Wiltshire said.

Still, on Tuesday morning, there were uncertainties — the AMS had made an oral commitment that the SHRC wouldn’t be removed from its space on April 2, but not a written agreement, and Wiltshire didn’t know what would happen to the student fee.

According to Cathro, the SHRC will still receive its fee for the 2015-16 academic year.

Sherman told the Journal via email that the SGPS will now be responsible for allocating club space to the SHRC, but the SHRC will have until the end of June to continue operating in their current space.

“Recognizing that this is a significant change, we are working with the SHRC to help them transition into a new space,” he said.

This article has been updated to reflect the following correction: SHRC was given the option to become a service under the Social Issues Commission, not to become a retail service. Incorrect information appeared in the Mar. 20 issue of the Journal.

The Journal regrets the error.

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