By Jessica Barclay & Joel Robertson-Taylor
A major change of pace emerged at the Student Union Society’s (SUS) Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) second attempt on Feb. 8. Over 110 students gathered in the Student Union Building (SUB) Great Hall to vote on changes to SUS bylaws, the SUS elections policy, and the now nearly over 2017/18 budget.
The first attempt was adjourned because quorum — one per cent of the membership, set at 98 students — was not reached; less than 15 students attended. SUS bylaws require a second attempt to be held at the same time and place the following week, but with fifty per cent of quorum, which was set at 49.
During question period, several students voiced concerns unrelated to the EGM agenda, and cited the SUS advertising campaign as being misleading, as it positioned the EGM as an opportunity for students to raise any concerns they have with SUS governance and affairs.
Some issues raised include the shuttle bus schedule, and SUS advertisements in student study space.
Quorum was maintained for three hours before the number of members trickled below 49. Before quorum was lost, the bylaw and elections policy changes were voted on and approved. Some of the proposed bylaw changes were revised by members attending the EGM before a vote of approval was cast.
The meeting lost quorum before the budget proposal could be voted on, although the budget was still presented for members in attendance.
One of the changes to the bylaws, 20.2.4, gives annual budget approval to the SUS board of directors, instead of requiring membership approval at a general meeting. Now that the bylaw changes have taken affect, the SUS does not need membership approval of the budget.
Gurvir Gill, SUS president, said the reason for this change was to ensure that there would be an approved budget for each year, and to allow changes to the operations aspect of the budget to be made at the discretion of elected representatives. Fixed fees would not be changed in this manner.
“The general student body elects students to represent themselves,” Gill said to the membership. “It’s unfair for those students to, say, be in my shoes right now, without an operations budget. I couldn’t execute things that I wanted to do this year.”
One of the suggested bylaw amendments that proved to be in contention among students in attendance was to increase the amount of votes needed to call a referendum from one per cent to five per cent of the total SUS membership. With current numbers, that would be an increase from 98 to approximately 490 students. A vote was held to keep the referendum number at one per cent.
Jaleen MacKay, SUS vice-president internal, said the reason for the proposed change was that there must be a five per cent voter turnout for a referendum to be valid. This change would have made both the number of petition signatures and voter turnout thresholds the same. However, petitioning to call a referendum, and voting in the referendum are different tasks.
MacKay added that this number was suggested by the previous SUS executive.
Another item in the bylaw changes involved the creation of a new executive position, vice-president students, which will divide the role of vice-president external between two individuals.
“Previously, the external portfolio had a lot under its belt,” Gill said.
The VP external will continue in the role of on and off campus advocacy, including dealing with MLAs and MPs, and attending conferences. The VP students will take over the responsibility of student engagement, orientation, events, and volunteerism.
The election policy changes passed with no major discussion. The transition period for new officials was changed to the last month of April, instead of the entire month, to prevent the interruption of student’s exams. The policy which allowed the chief electoral officers to chose the voting method was also removed, as voting is now done online through the UFV student portal.
A student suggested an amendment to allow proxy voting for general meetings, though this was not voted on, as the amendment did not involve any of the bylaws being presented, and would therefore require 14 days notice to SUS members.
Image: The Cascade