Print Edition: June 5, 2013
Much to my surprise, delight and chagrin, SUS recently succeeded in drawing close to 100 students to the first attempt of an Extraordinary General Meeting.
SUS’s quorum—the set number of students required at a meeting to make it official—is set at one per cent of their membership, which usually clocks in between 85-95 students. This is the first time in living memory that enough students have showed up to fulfill that requirement.
I’ve had the pleasure of attending close to a dozen SUS meetings over the last year or so, including first attempts, second attempts and regular board meetings. Roughly 10,000 students are considered members of SUS; approximately 9,980 of them usually find something else to occupy their time.
This meeting, however, was different. On May 27, SUS reached quorum.
SUS went the extra mile in a couple of ways; they took out full-page ad space in our last issue, they had the university send out a student-wide email, and SUS reps visited a multitude of student clubs and associations on campus to both inform about the meeting and beg students to attend. Something worked; the students packed into the meeting, voted on the motion and filed out again.
The EGM was called to vote on a single issue: the Student Union Building (SUB). Does the student body still approve of getting a mortgage to build it?
It’s a question that must be revisited every year – a failsafe built into the plan to ensure students still approve of the plans. The student body, after all, changes dramatically from year to year as old students graduate and new ones arrive in classes for the very first time.
But if all goes according to plan, this will be the last time students voice their opinion on the matter.
If all goes according to plan, SUS will finally break ground this summer.
Personally, I’ve been paying into the building since I arrived at UFV – to the tune of $385 total. Is a shiny new building worth almost $400 of my hard-earned cash? Frankly, I’ve given up considering the matter. I’ve reached a state of SUB exhaustion, and I would wager I’m not the only one. Consider the 92 students who signed into the EGM last week; there was barely any discussion about the motion, which lasted a mere 16 minutes. We’re done discussing. Build the damn thing, I want to tell SUS. Then we’ll talk about whether it was worth it.
Succeeding at an EGM’s first attempt is a wonderful feeling. For once, the tweets of “We’ve almost reached quorum!” were not sarcastic, which was also wonderful, if momentarily confusing.
The question now is whether or not SUS will be able to do it again.
The pessimist in me says that this EGM was extraordinary (pardon the pun). After all, SUS pulled out all the stops to rally student interest to push a specific motion through, and when are we likely to see that happen again?
On the other hand, the reason this meeting succeeded is how every meeting has a chance to succeed in the future. All too often, SUS meetings devolve into tangents of surprise motions and amendments, which stretches the process out as board members and students alike struggle to understand what’s going on.
But if SUS keeps to this newfound template of EGMs—one issue up for discussion, clearly laid out beforehand and well-advertised—then maybe the ghostly adversary of student apathy can be defeated. This EGM began and finished in the same half-hour; given busy student schedules, that’s about what we’re willing to spare. It’s not about subject matter, because SUS proved that students are willing to show up and get involved. It’s about focus. It’s because SUS narrowed this meeting to a single issue—and stuck to that issue, and that issue only—that this meeting was successful.
All I can say is that by staying focused, it would seem that anything is possible – even getting to the point where ground can be broken on the mythical SUB.