On the Students' Union's website, beside the SU president's photo, it states that the president sits on the Students' Academic Assembly.
However, this semester, that will not be the case.
This is a problem. Despite its unglorified nature, SAA is important. It is where academic policies for students are designed and drafted and is the main link between the SU and the university's individual faculties. The president is a key member, as she is both knowledgeable and an ambassador for the rest of the SU as well as for all the high-level administrators she meets with regularly.
SU president Julie Bogle put forward the motion to be excused from SAA at the Mon., Jan 14 meeting. However, she was not there to defend it, nor to answer questions members may have had about her proposed four-month absence. Members had started to discuss the issue but decided a decision could not be made in her absence and she had to be found and pulled from class.
When she got there, a heated debate followed with SAA members bringing up an SAA evaluation that had been discussed that very evening. The evaluation stated that communication between SAA and the Students' Legislative Council was a perpetual issue. The vote was close, with eight in favour and seven against.
Having the president absent at the meetings will only hurt communication and, for a leader that has said communication was a priority, this move seems counterintuitive.
Classes have been available since Aug. and as such, this should have been brought to SAA when they still had time to make a fair decision. At the meeting, Bogle had said she knew about the conflict but had been hesitant to deal with it because she knew it would be a troublesome issue.
As well as the class on Mon. evenings, Bogle could have taken a class on Tuedays and Thursdays, but was skeptical about that option because she wanted to be prepared for Tuesday's SLC meetings and be available for both students at large and elected officials to contact her during regular office hours. This sounds reasonable, but for the 16 other members of SAA that have specifically made the time to be there, it is unfair.