Top news stories of the 2016-17 year

As the 2016-17 school year comes to a close, The Charlatan looks back on some of the top stories of this year. These are the stories that have generated the most campus conversation and controversy, the ones with the most frequent coverage—as well as a few fun ones to remember.

Student Union Building Referendum

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The student union building was a campus project that began with last year’s promise by Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) slate Your Carleton to bring forward a new student union building for Carleton students if elected.

When Your Carleton was elected, consultations to put together a plan for the building were carried out, and controversy over the issue ignited from there—the survey for consultations had not been approved by the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA).

Heading into the school year, the current CUSA executive announced a December referendum for adding an $80 annual fee to support the construction of the project. After heated campus debate over the issue and CUSA’s “Shaping Our Skyline” campaign for a “yes” vote, the referendum failed to pass with 64.9 per cent of students voting No—and an unusually high 41 per cent voter turn-out.

Where’s the story now?—CUSA president Fahd Alhattab told The Charlatan that he and his team planned on passing a file of their analysis of the feedback on the referendum to next year’s CUSA executive to see if they want to continue the consultation process.

The Sexual Violence Policy

Photo by Trevor Swann

Carleton was obligated to create a stand-along sexual violence policy after the Ontario government called for a mandatory policy for dealing with sexual harassment and violence in 2015. The process of creating this policy involved consultations with student stakeholders, including CUPE 4600, CUSA, the GSA, and other groups, by university administration.

Some campus groups criticized the process and the Board of Governors implemented the current sexual violence policy on Dec. 1, 2016. Two open letters demanding policy changes, one before the policy enactment and a second following, were drafted by students and signed by many stakeholders and sent to university administration.

The Not Our Policy campaign arose in the aftermath of the policy’s creation, with students advocating for changes before the end of the semester.

Where’s the story now?—Jen Sugar, Carleton director of student affairs, has said some of the changes being demanded by the campaign are not feasible. Sugar also said Carleton will follow the timeline for policy review mandated by the policy, which calls for a policy review every three years, not as frequently as the Not Our Policy campaign advocated for.

The Women’s-Only Gym Hour

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The Where’s Our Women’s-Only Gym Hour campaign sparked discussion with the launch of a campaign for the implementation of women’s-only gym hours at the university fitness centre in November.

The campaign called for students to respond to a survey for gauging interest, with plans to bring the topic to Carleton Athletics if enough interest from the survey was gathered. In particular, campus discussion over the issue became increasingly heated and polarized online. After the survey closed, the campaign switched directions to suit the feedback the campaign received.

Where’s the story now?—Instead of lobbying for hours in the fitness centre reserved for only women, the campaign has shifted towards championing for women’s fitness programs, improving sensitivity training, and promoting Carleton women’s sports. The campaign has also successfully installed a women’s-only fitness hour offered three times a week held in a room outside of the fitness centre.

Resignation of Carleton president Roseann Runte

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At a March 23 BoG meeting, Carleton President Runte surprised fellow BoG members by announcing her departure from her position as university president. The first female president of the university, Runte has held her position since 2008 and resigned a year before her second term would have expired in 2018.

Since her resignation, Runte announced she is taking a position as president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation, with her resignation effective on July 31.

Where’s the story now?—With Runte resigning in the summer, the university is currently in the process of finding an interim president from within the university. A selection committee of students, faculty members, and members of the community is currently being formed to find candidates both inside and outside Canada. The process to find a new president will take around a year to complete.

Neuroscience department eviction

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Students and faculty of Carleton’s neuroscience department faced uncertainty when Carleton administration announced a temporary eviction of the department due to renovations to the current Life Sciences Building. The eviction was to occur in March but with no announced temporary location at the time of notice. Graduating students in particular expressed worry over the potential disruption to their research and, thus, their impending graduation.

Where’s the story now?—A statement released online by Carleton president Roseann Runte announced that the department is slated to temporarily move into facilities at the University of Ottawa.

BONUS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visits Carleton for conference on accessibility

Photo by Meagan Casalino.

Earlier in November 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau caused an uproar of students snapping selfies when he came to speak at a youth conference on accessibility in Residence Commons’ Fenn Lounge.

Where’s the story now?—While a number of high-profile Canadian personalities have come to Carleton since, including Peter Mansbridge, Trudeau hasn’t been back yet.