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Possible fee increase to hit AGM

A second attempt for the SUS AGM has been scheduled for exactly a week after the first attempt, and quorum will be adjusted so fewer than 20 students are required to attend.

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By Dessa Bayrock (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: September 26, 2012

Considering over 16,000 students attend UFV, math says it shouldn’t be difficult to get 94 of them in one place.

UFV’s Student Union Society (SUS) disproved this theory last Wednesday as they tried to meet quorum for their Annual General Meeting (AGM) – and failed.

The general mood was laid-back and unsurprised; SUS’ AGM meeting quorum on the first try is something that has only happened once before.

A second attempt has been scheduled for exactly a week after the first attempt, and quorum will be adjusted so fewer than 20 students are required to attend.

Meanwhile, the failed first attempt at an AGM became an opportunity for discussion and dialogue between students and the SUS board members.

“We don’t have anything else today, since the meeting’s not happening,” said Carlos Vidal, SUS president. “Right now we’ve got a bit of a unique situation … if anyone wants to ask any questions to any of the board members here, now’s your opportunity.”

Discussion quickly turned to the possibility of a student fee increase – something brought to students’ attention by posters advertising the AGM.

Vice-president social Chris Doyle quickly clarified that the potential fee increase was something he was bringing to the table as a student, and not a move on the part of SUS as a whole.

Vice-president internal Greg Stickland is responsible for overseeing the policies and regulations that govern SUS.

“At an AGM, any student can bring something to business,” Stickland explained.

Doyle, therefore, would be acting outside of his role as vice-president social.

“There’s been a lot of talk about looking into this for years now,” Doyle said. “I decided, ‘Screw it. I’m going to do it.’”

The fee increase Doyle intends to propose would be between $5 to $7.50 per student.

“The reason why I bring this forward is that our budget’s tight; we haven’t raised [student fees] in about four years now,” Doyle explained, stating that the extra money would help fund clubs and associations, student grants and more SUS events like the recent Weeks of Welcome.

Overall, Doyle said, it would help “students get more out of SUS.”

Although the motivation for the increase was apparent, less clear was the reason it would be proposed at the AGM; SUS bylaws state that a fee increase can be instituted either at an AGM or through a referendum.

Why, then, raise the issue at an AGM (which fewer than 100 students regularly attend) rather than going to referendum (in which every student would have a chance to vote)?

“The main reason it’s not going to referendum right now is because we have to vote as a board to bring things to referendum,” Stickland explained. “As a society right now, we are extremely divided on that.”

“Not all members of the board are necessarily for an increase,” Vidal clarified. “That discussion is up when the motion comes up next week.”

Shane Potter, who represents Chilliwack students as vice-president east, stated that he would prefer to see a potential fee increase put to referendum.

“Personally, I would prefer a referendum because it’s a more direct form of democracy, for me,” Potter explained. “But again, this is a very divided issue with our board.”

Vidal explained there is no technical difference between instituting a fee increase at an AGM or through referendum.

“The decision to bring it to an AGM or a referendum is debatable, but either one is perfectly acceptable according to our bylaws and governing manual at this time,” Vidal said.

However, he noted, a fee increase voted on at an AGM would also have to be approved by UFV’s Board of Governors.

Stickland also mentioned that part of the need for a fee increase is due to inflation.

“If we don’t do a general fee increase once in a while, we tend to shrink and shrink and shrink until we become irrelevant,” he said.

Apart from a possible fee increase, Vidal briefly mentioned several other projects SUS will dive into over the next year. These projects include a possible referendum about SUS’ involvement with the student lobby group CASA, as well as a possible referendum concerning the coverage and price tag of the SUS-supplied student health and dental plan. SUS will also continue working out the details of the Student Union Building.

These projects, among others, will be discussed at the AGM on September 26. The meeting is scheduled for 2:30 pm at AfterMath, and any student is welcome to attend and bring a motion to the table.

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