What is the SUO anyways?

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What is the SUO anyways?

What is the SUO?

And how are we independent from UBC?

Despite paying fees for the Students’ Union every term, many UBC Okanagan students do not know much about their Students’ Union Okanagan (SUO), and neither can they delineate the SUO’s services from UBC’s. If you struggle with figuring this separation out, you are in luck! We have written this educational article on how the SUO runs, how UBC runs, and where they meet in the middle.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is the SUO?

The Students’ Union Okanagan (SUO) is a registered Society comprised of all students enrolled at UBC Okanagan. We provide student services that range from supporting your health and education to reducing student debt to creating a vibrant campus life. Additionally, the SUO fights for the student’s interests at the University level and all levels of government — municipal, provincial, and federal. Through providing student services, advocacy for student issues, and development of policies that enhance student success, the SUO works to better students’ lives every day.

What services does the SUO provide? 

How is the SUO governed?

As a registered Society, the SUO is governed by its members (all UBCO students) through direct and indirect democratic processes. Students govern the SUO via 3 democratic methods:

  1. The students elect 18 Directors every year who represent them on the SUO Board of Directors, which oversees the day-to-day business of the Union.
  2. The SUO Board hosts the Annual General Meeting where students can directly vote for resolutions that establish the priorities and policies of the SUO.
  3. Students can vote in occasional referenda on issues and decisions.

Who is on the Board of Directors?

The Board of Directors is comprised of 18 members:

  • 5 Executive Directors: The President, VP Finance and Administration, VP Internal, VP External, VP Campus Life
    • These five executive directors oversee implementing the decisions of the Board as they relate to their respective portfolios.
  • 4 Directors-at-Large
    • These directors represent the entire student body.
  • 8 Faculty Representatives
    • These directors represent the students in each of the 8 faculties at UBCO.
    • What does the Board of Directors do?
    • The SUO Board of Directors is responsible for the overall oversight of the Students’ Union. The Directors oversee the Executive team and sit as the highest executive body in the Students’ Union. They make decisions about club ratification, budget approval, and student initiatives, and give feedback on the direction and priorities of the Union. The Board helps organize campaigns, campus life events, and the AGM, and helps implement student support on campus.
  • What is the Senate and what do they do?
    • The UBC Okanagan Senate is the academic governing body of the University of British Columbia. It is responsible for the admissions, course, and program curriculum, granting of degrees, academic policies, examinations, and appeals of standing and student discipline. Each year, students-at-large are elected as voting members on the UBC Okanagan Senate Committees. Because of this, the SUO’s Student Senate Caucus Representative is an ex-officio and appointed position on the Students’ Unions’ Board of Directors – a communications liaison between the two bodies.
  • What is the Board of Governors and what do they do?
    • The Board of Governors (BoG) is the highest administrative body at the University of British Columbia. It oversees and directs all administrative and academic issues. The BoG establishes policies and constitutions and is responsible for the student code of conduct. Each year, a student-at-large is elected to sit on the BoG as a voting member and as a representative of the student body of UBCO. Because of this, the SUO’s Board of Governors Representative is an ex-officio and appointed position on the Students’ Unions’ Board of Directors – a communications liaison between the two bodies.
  • What events does SUO host?
    • Events organized by the SUO encompass a diverse range, such as concerts, trivia, carnivals, beer gardens, and e-sports tournaments. Stay informed about upcoming events through the SUO’s official communication channels.
  • What campaigns does SUO run?
    • There are no fixed campaigns that the SUO runs every year. The campaigns committee is chaired by the Vice President External, where the priorities for the year are decided per the advocacy needs of the membership. For example, this year the campaigns committee focused on the issues of food security and affordability, mental health and sustainability. 
  • How do student leaders get elected in SUO and what does that process look like?
    • The election process begins with the submission of nomination packages. After the successful nomination of the student, the campaigning period starts when nominated candidates engage with students to showcase their platform and ideas. The last few days of the election period is the voting period when students cast their vote in favour of their preferred candidates. After following the ballot procedure, the final vote counts for each position are released.
  • What food services does SUO provide?
    • The Well
    • J’s Cafe
    • Koi Sushi
    • Fusion Express
  • How is the SUO affiliated with UBC?
    • As a registered Society, the SUO is a separate entity from the UBC. While the SUO members are all UBCO students, the SUO is run fully independently and the UBCO does not have a say in its governance. Similarly, the SUO does not have any role in the decisions made by the University. However, the SUO aims to always advocate for the students’ needs and priorities to the University.
  • Why do I pay fees to the SUO and how much is the fee?
    • As a registered Society, the SUO is fully funded through membership fees. The money you pay to the SUO covers your Health and Dental, Bus Pass, and the operation of the Union. You can find a detailed breakdown of the fees here
  • What are the bylaws/regulations and why are they important?
    • The bylaws are the rules that establish what the SUO can and cannot do and the general processes of how the SUO must be governed. All bylaws are approved at General Meetings or Referenda by the rank-and-file students. The regulations establish the more granular processes for how the SUO functions, and they are approved only by the Board.
    • You can find them here 
  • How can I find out what decisions the Board is making?
    • All Board meetings are open to the members, and you can come observe them to find out what your elected representatives are deciding on your behalf. In addition, Board Meeting Minutes are made available every month for you to read and find out about the happenings in the Board Meetings. You can find the minutes here
  • How do I access information about my health plan?
    • Talking to our friendly receptionist would provide you with all the information you need about StudentCare. Detailed information on coverage, benefits, and opting out can be found here
  • How do I get my U-Pass?
    • To activate the U-Pass, visit the SUO front desk and request activation on your student ID. Find more info here
  • Does the SUO offer support with faculty concerns (ie. tutoring, class schedule, academic advising)?
    • The SUO advocates for all students regardless of faculty. Faculty representatives function as a voice of the faculties to bring up key concerns from students, especially with contact with student associations and course unions. The SUO, with the Student Advocate and the Front Desk, can ensure that students are directed to the correct resource on campus. The SUO has directly provided social services like food security support, UPass, and healthcare while simultaneously advocating to UBC for academic and institutional support. For specific concerns regarding class schedules, the UBC faculty is always willing to support them.
  • Does the SUO authorize scholarships, bursaries, or other monetary awards?
    • The SUO is involved in a variety of different scholarships, bursaries, and other projects. The SUO has a leadership award, regularly contributes to the student emergency fund, launched a transportation bursary, participates in UBC Giving Day, and contributes to a wide variety of endowments and awards. UBC has separate scholarships and provides validation for those. 

For more information about the SUO, you can check out suo.ca! The Students’ Union is an important aspect of a UBCO student’s life, so stay informed on its services and events by following us on Instagram