Final UVSS board meeting sees presentations on election report

Campus News

A Tweetcap of the final Board meeting of the academic year

File photo by Belle White.

On April 15, the 2018/2019 UVSS Board of Directors met for the final time to reflect on potential ways to improve UVSS elections and poli-sci gargoyles.

For the last meeting of the year, the SUB Upper Lounge saw more of a full house than usual — excluding UVSS Chief Electoral Officer Gary Nason and the Martlet, there were four students in the public gallery. Three of these students are incoming members of the new UVSS Board, who will start their term in May.

As the meeting began, outgoing firekeeper for the Native Students Union (NSU) Kolin Sutherland-Wilson prefaced his territory acknowledgement by saying that personally, he does not find these acknowledgements too comfortable.

“There’s always something to be discussed, there’s always histories to be explored, there’s always harder conversations to be had,” he continued. Sutherland-Wilson’s acknowledgment was a commitment to keep having those uncomfortable conversations.

It was then time for Nason to present on his electoral report from the most recent election. Nason’s summation of the report included a list of notable events that occurred during the election period, complaints and appeals, and several recommendations for the future.

University closures and delays during the week of nominations were a prime issue due to February’s snowmageddon. Candidate training sessions were postponed, and not all candidates were able to attend due to the snow.

Of 17 931 eligible undergraduate voters, 15.55 per cent voted for the Board of Directors. Although Nason reported that this number is down from last year, voter engagement has actually increased — 11.8 per cent of students (not 18.2 per cent, as Nason said) voted for these positions in 2018.

Voter turnout for the referenda was 16.56 per cent, which is down from 18.2 per cent in the previous election.

In terms of recommendations, Nason spoke primarily about clarifying or simplifying policy on several issues, including third-party endorsements, candidate eligibility, the role of the media in elections, and procedure for appeals and complaints.

He also stated that he believes that hiring for the elections office should begin earlier — ideally, Nason said the Chief Electoral Officer would be hired in October, and the office would be fully operational by winter break.

There was no recommendation made in regards to the VIPIRG referendum, and Nason did not speak on his previous ruling, where he said that it “should be conducted again, as soon as possible.”

Next up, it was time for Pierre-Paul Angelblazer, Director of Outreach and University Relations, to present results from the electoral survey.

The UVSS received 587 responses to the survey, which Angelblazer said is a pretty good sample of the 17 931 undergraduate students eligible to vote. The UVSS has never had feedback of this type on the election, he said, and a simpler breakdown of this survey will be posted on the website soon.

Some of the written feedback included suggestions on how future elections could be improved. This included advice that the UVSS should improve their reputation, strong opinions on chalk, and a comment from one individual that “The entire school is run by 10 poli-sci gargoyles who never leave the SUB.”

When the presentations ended, there was little of note discussed in the committee reports — a good number of committees have pretty much wrapped up for the term, and are working on transitioning to the next board.

During question period, the Martlet asked if any members of the board had advice or recommendations to pass on to their successors, particularly given that there were several incoming board members in the room.

After a long pause, Pride representative Avria Chrystal said that there were times this year when she felt the current board did not think outside the box enough with their approach to issues. However, Chrystal said that she is hopeful hopeful the new board will bring more creativity to this process.

From the outgoing directors, only Jordon Gilson, Director-at-Large, had a message to pass along aside from the formal transition and training materials.

“This is a really important job, but it’s also a great experience,” said Gilson. “Take it seriously, but also have fun… Try to get out and actually experience campus.”

Moving on, both of the meeting’s main motions — one approving Health and Dental Plan benefits and the other announcing the upcoming board orientation — were omnibused. And with that, the meeting moved in camera, concluding the Martlet’s coverage of the 2018/2019 UVSS Board of Directors meetings.

The next board meeting will be on May 6 at 6 p.m. Location TBA. The approval of the 2019/2020 Board meeting schedule will occur at this meeting.

This article was updated on April 23, 2019 at 5:07 p.m.