Quorum briefly met, then lost, at UVSS Annual General Meeting

Finances and student engagement primary topics of conversation

The University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) Board of Directors held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday, Oct. 12.

After briefly meeting quorum (113 students), it was quickly lost in just under five minutes as students left the room. As such, the majority of the agenda had to be skipped, as without quorum all special resolutions cannot be proposed or voted on.

The meeting continued with a limited agenda.

Following a territorial acknowledgment, approval of the meeting’s chairperson, and adoption of the limited agenda, Director of Finance and Operations Curtis Whittla gave a presentation on the UVSS’s finances, specifically highlighting the 2017-2018 audit of financial statements as well as the 2018-2019 budget proposal.

Whittla’s presentation broke down the $74.35 each full-time undergrad student pays to the UVSS, showing members that $21.80 of this amount goes toward general UVSS operations, $18.95 goes to funding the Board of Directors and their initiatives, and $33.60 goes to funding advocacy groups, Clubs and Course Unions, and affiliated organizations like CFUV and the Martlet.

Whittla  also broke down the total revenue brought in by the UVSS from operations and businesses such as Food and Beverage services, ZAP Copy, and Subtext. He then compared these figures with the total expenses incurred by the UVSS in carrying out their operations.

Whittla’s presentation included graphs comparing revenues and expenses from various SUB operations over the last ten years.

According to the presentation, UVSS Food and Beverage Operations have not turned a profit since 2013-14, while Catering and Conference services continued to generate revenue.

Screenshot via the UVSS.

Screenshot via the UVSS.

For Cinecenta and Munchie Bar, 2016-17 proved to be their most profitable year, followed closely by 2017-18. According to the presentation, although Cinecenta does not generate much revenue, Munchie Bar — which serves as the theatre’s concession — offsets this.

Screenshot via the UVSS.

Zap Copy has seen an overall decline in revenue, dropping from just under $120 000 during  2010-11 to just under $10 000 in 2017-18. Whittla cited the prevalence of digital technology and competition from Blink (UVic’s print shop) as reasons for this decline in revenue.

Screenshot via the UVSS.

SUBtext has seen a similar downturn in revenue, dropping from $100 000 in revenue in 2013-14 to  an overall deficit in 2017-18.

Screenshot via the UVSS.

Whittla continued the presentation by pointing to the health and dental insurance plans and the university bus pass as other expenses paid for by the UVSS.

Despite losing quorum, attendees were still able to adopt the 2018-19 budget, and receive the 2017-2018 audited financial statements.

Following Whittla’s presentation, each Lead Director gave a update on what they’ve accomplished over the past few months.

Pierre-Paul Angelblazer, Director of Outreach and University Relations, spoke about upcoming and recent events hosted in the SUB for the municipal elections, while Noor Chasib, Director of Events, talked about various initiatives he is organizing to engage students from first year to fourth year. He also mentioned the possibility of a ferry shuttle service the UVSS is hoping to offer over November reading break to ease the hassle for students who will be transiting from the university to Swartz Bay during this busy time.

 

Director of Campaigns and Community Relations Ainsley Kerr then discussed a few of her recent initiatives, including the new Peer Support Centre in the SUB and several events that occurred over Sexualized Violence Awareness Week earlier in October.

Next up was Isabella Lee, Director of Student Affairs, who livened up the room with her speech, speaking enthusiastically about Clubs and Course Unions Days. Lee also mentioned that she welcomes feedback from students, and encouraged attendees to reach out to her with their constructive criticism.

Whittla followed with an additional update on finances. Most news regarding Whittla’s portfolio was previously covered during his presentation, so his update at this time was brief.

Question period passed quickly, as just one student had questions regarding student engagement and how students can get involved with the new Peer Support Centre.

The meeting ended promptly after question period, but the Martlet took a moment to speak with Angelblazer on the issue of UVSS student engagement.

Speaking on the subject of reaching then losing quorum, Angelblazer said, “It was personally disappointing. We had quorum for three minutes less than last time.”

Angelblazer was one of the main proponents of a motion regarding Faculty Directors that had been put on the original agenda for the meeting. If passed, the implementation of this policy would mean that some positions on the UVSS board would be restricted by faculty. This change to the UVSS’s governance structure was to be voted on at the AGM, however because quorum was not met, the motion could not even be brought forward, let alone passed.

Regarding whether he would continue trying to implement Faculty Directors, Angelblazer said that it would depend on when the UVSS’s Semi-Annual General Meeting (SAGM) would be held.

“It would be be a pretty big change, but if we’re able to have the SAGM in January we can have it on the agenda again, but any later than that it would have to be something picked up by the next board,” he said.

As for improving student engagement with the UVSS, Angelblazer said that it’s not such an easy thing to track.

On how [the problem of student engagement] can be solved, Angelblazer said that this was the million dollar question.

“If an election gets 20% voter turnout, is that high engagement compared to that board getting elected and them not making quorum at any of their general meetings — does that mean … better engagement, or not?

“Obviously the goal is always to get quorum at meetings, it’s always to get people to come out.”

Angelblazer talked about the actions that did and did not work in getting people to attend the AGM this time around — the location, he said, worked well, however the time did not.

He also pointed to the success of tabling in the quad earlier in the day as an outreach method.

“We’re never going to get 100 per cent engagement. That’s not a realistic goal … I would say the smaller level of government that you go down, the less voter turnout there is,” citing lack of engagement in municipal elections as an example of this problem.

“I think people care even less, because the stakes are a lot lower,” he said.

As for how this problem can be solved, Angelblazer said that this was the million dollar question.

“It’s hard to get people to care when it doesn’t seem like it’s something that necessarily affects them,” he explained. “It’s trying to show how the decisions that are taken by the students’ society — how those [decisions] impact [students].”

The next UVSS Board Meeting will be on Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Vertigo room of the Student Union Building.

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