Between the Motions: Students critique sexualized violence policy

On August 23, AMS Council met to discuss the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan and revisions to its respectful workplace and sexualized violence policies.

Here’s what you might have missed.

Changes after reserve fund exhausted

AMS President Esmé Decker presented an update on the Health & Dental Plan for the upcoming year.

Changes for students include decreases in basic dental coverage from 50 to 40 per cent, in eyeglasses and contacts coverage from $100 to $80, in Gardasil (HPV vaccine) coverage from $250 to $150 and in per-visit psychology coverage from 100 per cent to 80 per cent, while keeping total coverage at $1250.

According to Studentcare, basic dental coverage includes fillings, oral surgery, periodontics and some endodontics. Dental offices in the Studentcare Dental Network cover an additional 20 per cent of the cost.

Decker said there is a gap between the collected fee and the plan’s cost, forcing the AMS to use its now-exhausted internal reserve fund. They said these changes preserve coverage while refraining from increasing the fee substantially.

Decker also said the plan will offer gender-affirming care, following the March referendum.

“We've successfully averted major negative impacts on the student plan by making the following changes that would have otherwise very drastic financial impacts on the plan,” said Decker.

Decker also said the AMS will continue to offer need-based subsidies for students paying the Health & Dental fee.

PC1 and PC2 fail to get approval

Students-at-large criticized the proposed drafts of AMS policies PC1, which describes respectful workplace conduct, and PC2, which outlines how the student society responds to disclosure of sexual misconduct.

PC1 and PC2 were first passed by the student society in 2019 and must be reviewed every two years. These drafts have been under review since September 2021.

During an April Council meeting, students expressed concern regarding the AMS’s revisions of the policies, leading Council to defer the policies. In a May Council meeting, AMS President Esmé Decker said the society would "ideally" have the policies approved by September.

The chair of the Social Justice Centre said resource groups had not been consulted regarding the policy changes, but were given one business day to review and provide feedback on the policies. They also said the AMS “treats consultation as a buzzword” and has ignored community feedback.

Decker said the AMS has included as much feedback as possible into the policy drafts and wants to continue to work with Resource Groups to “bring forward policies that are the best as possible for our students and our staff.”

Students-at-large specifically expressed concern about PC2’s false claims clause, which allows the AMS to take “corrective action” for people who “intentionally make malicious and false allegations of Sexualized Violence" and clause 16, which allows elected student leaders, like the AMS VP administration, VP finance and HR committee chair, to be the decision-makers on claims of sexual misconduct.

Decker said the false claims clause was recommended by a lawyer due to past false claims in the AMS.

According to Decker’s PC1/PC2 presentation, the current policy drafts have been worked on since June, but build on the review process that started in September 2021.

The AMS HR manager, executive committee, ombusperson office, senior manager of student services, legal counsel, staff, policy advisor, managing director, union representatives, elected student leaders and Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) were consulted during the review process according to the PC1/PC2 presentation. Consultation had also been done with Resource Groups by the previous policy advisor.

The PC2 draft’s key changes include a shortened review period from two years to one year, a false claims clause and a change of decision-makers.

After increasing tensions between students-at-large and Council, Decker moved a motion to end the meeting.

No vote was held on the PC1 and PC2 approval.