This year’s UTSU Annual General Meeting, held last Thursday at the St. George campus, finished in record time for the first time in years, lasting under two hours after all motions proposed were passed by a majority.
The introduction of an Appellate Board, moved by UTSU’s VP internal Mathias Memmel, will offer another layer to hear grievances raised against UTSU.
As previously reported by The Medium, the grievances are heard by UTSU’s board or the Executive Review Committee in the case that the grievance is against a UTSU executive.
“After you’ve exhausted those processes, you can file a further grievance to something we’re calling the Appellate Board,” said Memmel in a previous interview with The Medium.
During the AGM, Daman Singh, University College Literary and Athletic Society vice-president, questioned the ERC’s ability to call more than one ratification meeting. The question raised the concern of whether or not the ERC can overturn the elections. In the case that it can, the Appellate Board will also be granted this power; and if not, then the Appellate Board will not be able to either.
“The idea that a body can just keep re-voting a vote is problematic,” said Singh.
In response to the concern, Memmel explained that the role of the ERC is that it can find fault in the procedure of elections and call for a new election. Additionally, the Appellate Board can penalize candidates and issue demerit points to disqualify a candidate.
“I think it’s fair to say that the Appellate could fairly adjudicate the outcome of an election, and at the procedure level, determine if there is a problem and force new elections,” stated Memmel.
Currently, UTSU’s bylaw IX states, “There shall be three budgets prepared (Preliminary, Operating, and Revised), all which must follow the Budgeting Planning Framework set in the Operational Policy Manual.”
The motion, moved by engineer director Andrew Sweeney, amends that the three budgets must “allocate no less than 25% of the gross revenue from regular membership fees toward student clubs, events and services; notwithstanding any additional amount allocated from other levies.”
UTMSU’s president Nour Alideeb said at the AGM that the amendment does not clearly specify the division of the funds.
Memmel stated that there have been previous concerns over the UTSU budget, and that this amendment would act as a guidance for UTSU. He added that he thinks it should pass, even though he does not agree with all of it.
Budget policy amendment
The policy of the budget currently dictates that the Budget Committee should present the Operating Budget to the board. It also states that the operating budget should rely on both the preliminary budget and the budgets proposed by the “various spending of units”.
The motion, passed by the vice-president of the Victoria University Students’ Administrative Council, Stephen Warner, adds that the Operating Budget also includes the amount given to each of the UTSU’s levy groups, which include the Centre for Women and Trans People, Cinema Studies Student Union, Downtown Legal Services, Students for Barrier-Free Access, and others.
Memmel explained that students can opt out of the cost paid to these student groups.
Student Lisan Henry, asked why there was a budget cut for clubs from 2015 to 2016.
UTSU’s former VP internal and current VP professional faculties, Ryan Gomes, explained that the previous UTSU’s executive team overspent the commission budget. He added that his team was looking at the budget and trying to organize it.
Memmel also stated that UTSU’s orientation ran a deficit last year, adding that AGM’s costs around $6,000 as well.
According to Memmel, last year’s budget was $14 million, most of which came from the Health and Dental plan. For this year’s budget, UTSU separated the plan, attempting to get a clear idea of where they’re spending the money.
A student also asked when was the last time that UTSU changed auditors, to which Tka Pinnock, UTSU’s executive director, stated that it was 10 years ago.
Memmel said that UTSU will carry out the process to change the auditors this year.
According to UTSU’s bylaws, the number of UTMSU representatives allowed is seven. Alideeb moved to “ensure that the bylaws clearly stated” this fact, as well as to clarify that the UTMSU president/designate is a part of the UTSU executive. The amendment was passed.
The meeting began at 6:45 p.m. and was adjourned at 8:35 p.m., something which Gomes referred to as the “most civil” AGM he has seen.