Print Edition: February 5, 2014
Despite passing board reform and updating elections policies, the Student Union Society (SUS) January 22 extraordinary general meeting (EGM) left some business undecided.
Before approving the agenda at the beginning of the meeting, Biology and Chemistry Student Association (BCSA) president Jennifer Martel requested to have a motion added to the agenda which would see 55 per cent of the SUS budget mandated to go towards student services.
Martel explained to the members in attendance that she tried to bring her motion forward at the original EGM before it was cancelled in December, and that she was never contacted to have it placed on the January agenda.
Under SUS bylaws any special business must be presented at least 14 days prior to an EGM, which barred the addition of this motion to the EGM without proper notice.
SUS VP finance and chair of the EGM Ryan Petersen ruled that Martel’s motion would not be added to the agenda.
Following the EGM, Martel described the communication between her and SUS in the weeks leading up to the EGM.
“When I found out about the last EGM that was happening I sent an email [and] I gave the nature of the motion,” she said. “I got a reply saying, ‘We need to see the motion.’”
She added that her understanding of the B.C. Society Act is that only the spirit of a motion is required ahead of time. “Obviously you want to be informed going into an EGM … my wording wasn’t ready.”
The B.C. Society Act indicates in part 3, section 13 that
“Notice of a general meeting must specify the place, day, and hour of the meeting, and, in case of special business, the general nature of that business.”
SUS bylaws state, also in section 13, that
“The agenda for each general meeting, other than a requisitioned general meeting, must be prepared by the executive officers for presentation to the members at the general meeting and shall include the following: A description of any special resolutions that are being considered.”
Petersen explained that SUS requests motions be presented in full so the student body can be fully informed, although this is not indicated in their bylaws.
“We always try to strive [for] more complete, concise ideas. Otherwise, that doesn’t really give people enough to debate or think or find out more about it,” he says. “An idea is vague; it can change … so it’s very confusing for everyone involved.”
He went on to note that SUS offered help in drafting the motion prior to the first EGM, but nothing came of it.
“We always encourage people to come forward to us,” Petersen said. “I think we did even offer help on completing a full draft of it, but then no further response was made, at least to my knowledge.”
Martel’s motion was presented in full on January 22, but it was deemed special business and not added to the agenda.
SUS bylaws define special business in section 16.
“All business conducted at an Annual General Meeting, except the following:
16.2.1 The adoption of rules of order
16.2.2 The consideration of the financial statements
16.2.3 The consideration of the report of the Directors
16.2.4 The consideration of the report of the auditor, if any
16.2.5 The appointment of the auditor, if required
16.2.6 The other business that, under these Bylaws, ought to be conducted at an Annual General Meeting.”
Special business is also defined in section 15 of the B.C. societies act.
“All business at an extraordinary general meeting except the adoption of rules of order.”
“Because we have bylaw 16 right now, it makes everything at an EGM or an AGM special business, so you have to have it 14 days before,” Martel said. “The problem is a lot of the EGMs aren’t announced until that 14 days. Sometimes they’re on the website ahead of time.”
At the end of the EGM, representative-at-large Thomas Davies suggested that a callout period prior to the 14 day notice for a SUS general meeting would be beneficial to students wanting to bring ideas to the table. Petersen confirmed SUS is considering the idea going forward.
“We’ll have to draft some sort of policy for that so it doesn’t just disappear after this one shot,” he said. “That way people … know that an AGM or EGM is coming up, and they have X amount of days to have any ideas, any input that they want to submit to us.”
Martel’s motion is designed so that SUS budget allocates 55 per cent of their funds to student services.
“As a student I want to see that my money’s going toward something useful … I’m putting all this money into it and I feel like I’m not getting enough out. I feel that at least … 50 per cent of what we put in should come back to us,” she says.
Martel is now on the SUS budget committee and will be working with Petersen and other members to draft the upcoming 2014/2015 budget to be presented at the March AGM.
“I think that’s possibly the best model to engage them at, is to help them have their voice at a very real level,” Petersen says.
With files from Dessa Bayrock.
Editor’s note: upon SUS’ request, the paragraph describing section 13 of the B.C. Society Act has been supplemented with the parallel section in SUS bylaws. In the editor’s opinion, the small difference in wording does not change the information originally presented in this article.