‘I’m excited to bring my twist to it’
By Jake Wray, News Editor
Two DSU representatives have been elected to new positions on the board of directors for the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS).
The BCFS is an organization consisting of 14 student unions from across the province that works in the collective interest of those unions. Shared services, such as student discount programs and medical insurance, are co-ordinated through BCFS, as well as campaigns for student issues, such as the Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign.
Elections for the BCFS board of directors took place at the BCFS annual general meeting, which ran from January 11 to 14.
Aran Armutlu, director of finance for the DSU, was elected as chairperson of the BCFS board.
“I am definitely excited. I am pretty humbled that the membership thinks I would be a good fit for the role, and I look forward to all the challenges that it will bring,” he told the Other Press in an exclusive interview.
Armutlu said one of the BCFS chairperson’s primary responsibilities is to drive BCFS campaigns. Previously, Armutlu sat on the BCFS board in the role of campaigns co-ordinator, which saw him assisting the previous chairperson on campaign files. He said he is eager to continue working on campaigns in the role of chairperson.
“It’s a big portfolio,” he said. “I’m excited to bring my twist to it. Obviously with roles like this, you don’t want to reinvent the wheel. It’s something that’s been done for a while and there’s already processes on which things are done.”
Armutlu said a recent successful BCFS campaign was their drive to remove tuition for adult basic education programs. The BC NDP government eliminated tuition fees for adult basic education in August 2017.
Telka Pesklevits, women’s representative for the DSU, was elected as the services co-ordinator for the BCFS board of directors.
She said she sought the role of services co-ordinator because the BCFS is under increasing pressure to provide services after its national counterpart, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS,) fell into disarray.
“There are, I think, 14 student unions or student societies in BC that are members of the BCFS, and a lot of them are seeking an exit from CFS,” Pesklevits told the Other Press in a phone interview. “[If exiting CFS] then we have to rely more on the BCFS, and so one of the ways we really feel that immediately is in the services.”
Services include a bulk swag-purchase program, health and dental service, and student union apps. Pesklevits said student unions save money by grouping together to purchase these services.
Pesklevits said one of her first priorities in the new role is figuring out what to do with the International Student Identity Card program, which provides Douglas College students (and students at other BCFS schools) with discounts at local businesses. The problem, she said, is that CFS currently controls that program.
“The rights to administer that are owned by the CFS, and so the issue is, if people are going to be exiting from the CFS, they’ll no longer have the right to administer [the discount program,] so we have to come up with an alternative.”