On November 24, the UTM Students Union emailed the chair and secretary of the Erindale College Council to inform them that the constitution had been violated by three hours.
The meeting was scheduled for Thursday, December 1 at 10 a.m. and the agenda was made available on Thursday, November 24 at around 1 p.m.—three hours less than a week. UTMSU inquired whether the meeting would be rescheduled. They thought that the discussion regarding parking fees should be moved to January to allow for greater student attendance.
UTMSU president Gilbert Cassar said that since the budgets were considered in late January last year, it is unreasonable that they be discussed in early December this year. However, the Executive Council determined on November 23 that the budgets needed to be sent to the Service Ancillary Review Group by January 6, which meant ECC needed to consider them in December.
Dan Dicenzo, UTMSU’s VP University Affairs and Academics, attended the Excecutive Council meeting but did not comment on or object to the proposed agenda. Cassar was away on other business and could not attend the meeting.
Gordon Anderson, the chair of ECC, spoke with Cassar to clarify the matter. Section 8 of the ECC constitution states that the agenda must be circulated to members at least seven days before the meeting; the time of day is not specified. Thus, despite the scheduled hour of the meeting, the agenda was sent out seven days in advance, so there was no violation.
“I’ve been here 25 years, and it has been the case for as long as I can remember that the Executive Committee meets on the Wednesday,” Anderson said. “On Thursday the secretary gets all of the notes and minutes together to attach to the agenda for Thursday afternoon. For 25 years, this has always been considered reasonable. Why now?”
Despite the discussion with Anderson, UTMSU maintained their interpretation of the bylaw and announced the violation to members of council at the ECC meeting.
“Some will be of the opinion that three hours is immaterial, but we would argue that the minimum requirement notice of seven days is itself insufficient, making it a very sensitive rule—also given the sensitivity of the examination period and the complexity of the documents being proposed for careful examination and approval,” said Cassar.
They presented their lobby document against increased parking fees and the discussion continued for over an hour. Rather than rotating between different sides of the argument, students dominated the question period.
Finally, a member who was speaking out of order called the motion to question, and the council voted to either continue the discussion or finalize the vote on parking fees. The vote was in favour of ending the discussion and the following vote on parking fees passed the increase proposal. However, the vote occurred after the time the council was supposed to adjourn, calling into question whether the results of the vote are valid.
Since the agenda was extensive, the chair and secretary proposed a second meeting a week later to ensure that each item was afforded appropriate discussion time. UTMSU and other faculty members opposed the second meeting. They argued that students would not be able to attend due to exams. Remaining matters of the ancillary budget, such as residence, were postponed until January 31.
According to UTMSU, the conduct at the meeting was disappointing because the opinions of students were disregarded and the rules of order were not followed. Cassar said that Anderson addressed the students in a condescending and mocking tone.
Anderson said that he should have kept a speakers list to ensure that rules of order were followed, but that the meeting had already been running late and there were other important matters on the agenda that needed to be addressed.
Discussion will continue at the upcoming meeting on January 31.