New board, old problems

The UVSS Board of Directors took their seats for the first meeting of the 2016-2017 board term on Monday, May 9, and while there was a certain efficiency not seen at meetings past, policy ghosts from the previous board led to some gridlock.

ELECTORAL REPORT MAKES A RETURN

Aside from the usual housekeeping that comes with inaugural board meetings, the agenda included a motion to accept an amended electoral report from the UVSS Elections Office. The report was not accepted by the previous board for adequately addressing concerns raised during this year’s student elections.

Emma Hamill, UVSS Chief Electoral Officer, was unable to attend the meeting, but forwarded a statement to be read to the board. She said that the elections office “considered all recommendations suggested by the general manager, the electoral committee, the adjudicator, the arbitration panel and even candidates” when crafting the report.

But she also said that “it is important to emphasize that the report is just that, recommendations and suggestions.”

The board came to an impasse when the directors and advocacy reps butted heads over how to proceed with the motion. Sara Maya Bhandar, UVic Pride rep, said she couldn’t support the amended report because it still failed to address the concerns of marginalized students that were brought forward to Hamill.

“It’s exactly the same report,” she said. “Some of the wording changed, but not the content.”

Kevin Tupper, Director of Finance & Operations, said that, as a former candidate, he had his own issues with elections that weren’t raised in the report, but concurred with Hamill’s suggestion that the board look at the report as a set of recommendations to be considered in future policy developments, and not as a report on the experience of the candidates.

It was also pointed out that elections office staff were no longer being paid, so asking them to make further revisions to the report would be asking them to work pro-bono, which nobody at the meeting really felt like doing.

But in a move that would make any policy nerd swoon, the board voted after a brief session in camera to object consideration of the motion outright on the premise that the previous board had already made a decision to not accept the report.

ANARCHY IN THE UVSS

The board continued on to a motion ratifying four newly established clubs for the summer 2016 term, one of which is the Anarchist Student Society.

Emma Kinakin, Director of Student Affairs, said the board shouldn’t single out any clubs based on personal beliefs of board members while discussing the motion, as all clubs have equal access to UVSS space provided that they don’t break any club policy.

The club is affiliated with the Anarchist Bookfair, an organization that advocacy reps said has hosted problematic events in the past. A suggestion was made to have Anarchist reps give a meeting to the board before its funding could be approved.

While Kinakin reiterated that the club hasn’t done anything against policy, and that singling out the club could be seen as discriminatory, Desjarlais said that the board does have a community standard, mandated in policy, for it to uphold. If the club’s activities don’t support that mandate, the board should know about it.

“We’re not saying no. We just want to see who they are and get to know them and how they’re going to support the community,” he said.

The board ultimately split the motion in two, voting to approve the club’s funding pending a presentation to the board at a future meeting.

CELL PHONE ALLOWANCE CAUSES SPLIT

The board discussed a final motion to strike a $50/month cell phone allowance from the lead director’s benefit package.

Striking the allowance would fulfill one of Encompass UVic’s campaign promises, and speaking to the motion, Tupper said that it was their “duty as elected members to follow through on this mandate.”

Bhandar dismissed the argument. “You have to remember that this board is different than the slate that you ran on,” she said to Tupper.

Bhandar said that whatever mandate Encompass members wrote into policy does not reflect the mandate of the organization as a whole, which includes accessibility for students.

Michelle Brown, Director-at-Large, said that the allowance is helpful for low-income directors, and removing it would be a barrier for those who might want to participate in student politics.

After a tense but spirited discussion, the board voted to amend the motion to include a “sunset clause,” which would bring the cell phone allowance back into effect at the start of the 2017-2018 board term. That way, the policy would only be in effect for the duration of this board’s term.

The next board meeting will take place on Monday, May 16 at 6 p.m. in the SUB Upper Lounge.

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