The league of extraordinary general meetings



Perhaps you’ll take interest in millions of dollars.

Maybe proposed changes to the student union society (SUS) bylaws and election policy, or the SUS 2017/18 budget? It’ll all be presented at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM), Thursday, February 1.

What’s an EGM? A meeting of the society’s membership (in our case, UFV students) held at an irregular time. More simply put, when there are items that can’t wait until the Annual General Meeting (AGM), an EGM is held to discuss business, and ask for input from the membership. Items include financial reports, bylaw/policy revisions, an open question period, society executive reports, and sometimes more. Supplementary to the monthly board meetings that SUS holds, these General Meetings see large, membership-concerning items addressed. SUS bylaws require an AGM each year between January 15 and March 30, but an EGM is called at any point a non-annual General Meeting must be held.

The EGM concerns each UFV student. It concerns me that all the SUS General Meetings I’ve attended struggled to pull in enough members to legally hold the meeting.

Last year, at the AGM, the same SUS bylaw revisions to be presented next week were addressed, and a vote to pass or not pass them was called. For reasons to be explained in a moment, a vote couldn’t be cast.  

As for the agenda for the February 1 EGM (available on the SUS website), it includes the following:

The aforementioned presentation of society bylaw changes, which will be followed by a motion for approval, and a vote of yea or nay. The student union said these changes are an update to stay in compliance with changes to the B.C. Societies Act. Additional bylaw changes that were not presented at last year’s AGM will also be voted on at next week’s EGM.

Changes to the SUS election policy will also be presented, then voted on by the membership. The agenda says that these policy changes are to allow for “more convenient scheduling for incoming executives, and more consistent electoral processes over multiple years.”

And last of the three special presentations, the 2017/18 budget will be discussed. Its approval will be voted on by student union membership in attendance.

Perhaps for the first time in years, this is expected to be a comprehensive, as well as corrective, budget. It took many months for the budget to be completed. The presentation date for the 2017/18 budget was actually last March, but because of the state of disarray past budgets were in, it took as long as it has for the current team to draft a thoroughly representative budget, they said.

After these three items, the meeting will be opened up to a question period. Any member can ask a question. Curious about where millions in student fees are going, when past revenue lines only list six figures? Wondering about the fate and profits of the Canoe, which switched to a cafeteria-style service over a year ago to shed expenditures? Do you know how much your representatives spend on conferences and travel? Don’t be a chump; find out how your money is spent. In straight talk, this is when we get to ask “Hey, what the heck is going on here?”

A contributing reason for why the EGM is being held now, with the AGM right around the corner, is because last year’s AGM lost quorum in the middle of its session.

Quorum is the minimum number of members required for the meeting to proceed. This EGM’s quorum is one per cent of the voting members, to a maximum of 100. This means there needs to be somewhere around 95 students in attendance. It’ll depend on how many students — fee-paying members — are currently enrolled at UFV.

If not enough students attend, the meeting will be postponed to the following week, at the same time and place, for a second attempt. The rules for quorum change at the second attempt: quorum is set at half a per cent of voting members to a maximum of 50. This means fewer people can make decisions for the same membership.

That’s what happened at the AGM. Though enough members signed in to commence with business, at some point during the meeting, a member requested a member count, which revealed a loss of quorum. As per SUS bylaws, the meeting was suspended.

This is all to say, mark February 1, 12:00 noon, Evered Hall in the Student Union Building, in your calendar.

Note: The accompanying picture is relevant.

Image: Caleb Campbell/The Cascade

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