At UTMSU’s Annual General Meeting last Thursday, the union members voted to raise the number of students required to call a general meeting, and also approved a new grievance bylaw.
General Meeting Threshold
According to the original Bylaw III, section 1.2, part c., it states that 250 members of the union were required to call a general meeting. The UTMSU put forward to amend the bylaw to require 10 per cent of the student population instead.
Anne Boucher, the current UTSU vice-president external, requested to amend the motion to require 500 students, citing that the 10 per cent was too high a figure.
“500 signatures is a lot more accessible than 10 per cent. I think it will actually be in spirit to having things brought up in an AGM,” Anne stated.
UTMSU’s president Salma Fakhry replied that a 10 per cent threshold was rather a standard practice. “The reason it was moved to 10 per cent is it better reflected our 14,000 students,” she said.
Boucher argued that the 10 per cent was not a standard practice, supporting her claim with citing that the UTSU currently requires one per cent of the student population to call a general meeting.
Student Dwayne Backford also stated that it would be “incredibly unlikely” to get 1,000 students to sign off for a general meeting, when the overall student involvement on campus is low.
“Students will like to participate when it comes to student issues, when it comes to important stuff that needs to be addressed at an AGM, we have the capacity,” UTMSU’s vice-president campus life, Felipe Nagata argued back, supporting that an increase to 10 per cent would mean more student representation.
Maleeha Baig, former UTMSU’s vice-president equity argued “Whether it’s 250 or 500 members, it would be better than 10%. per cent.”
Following the several sentiments brought forward by students against the increase, Fakhry suggested to amend the bylaw to require five per cent of the student population to hold a general meeting.
The motion to amend the bylaw to require five per cent of student signatures, translating to approximately 700 student signatures, was carried.
UTMSU also introduced a new process for filing grievances with the student union under Bylaw XVII.
The bylaw would allow a student to file a grievance against the union if a bylaw has not been properly followed.
It also states that the president of the UTMSU would function as the Grievance Officer, and would address all complaints.
Boucher moved the amendment to require that all grievances should be handled by an Appellate Board, a third-party board which has no ties to the current UTMSU executives.
“It is very hard to remain impartial,” Boucher said, “To have a third-party board who is impartial, it would be a lot more trustworthy and I would trust their decision a lot more.”
“It makes the process a lot more transparent and democratic,” she continued.
“For different scenarios, we do treat it differently,” Fakhry replied. She said a separate board was not required because part two, section d. of the bylaw states that different grievances are handled in different ways, such as having an executive review committee to handle grievances brought forward against an executive. Grievances against the staff or the board get handled by the executive committee.
“I fundamentally disagree in the union having a say who can handle grievances. I believe that there should be an independent body handling grievances,” said Backford.
“We would like to keep matters of the union controlled by what the board decides. It doesn’t make sense for outside individuals to make decision about hiring,” Fakhry said.
In a scenario where a complaint is filed against the president, a new grievance officer would be addressed.
The motion to have an appellate board handle complaints failed, and Bylaw XVII was approved as originally presented.
The AGM also approved the financial statements for the UTMSU and the Blind Duck Pub. The pub is currently running a deficit of $29,674. According to UTMSU’s vice-president internal Vikko Qu, the deficit was a result of inflation, which increased the cost of sales by $20,000, while the union has kept food rates the same for the past two years.
The clubs expenditure for 2017 is $87,955 compared to $94,933 in 2016. Qu explained UTMSU did not lower the expenditure of clubs this year but that many of the clubs did not pick up their cheques and so they eventually expired.
The financial statements for both the UTMSU and the pub were approved.
The AGM also accepted the appointment of new auditors, Glenn Graydon Wright LLP, for the 2017/2018 year.
The AGM was adjourned after approximately two hours, at 8:10pm, on Thursday.