Lack of student participation hinders UVSS

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The UVic Student Society’s (UVSS) Annual General Meeting took place Oct. 18 in Cinecenta. It was enjoyable; there was free pizza, and facilitators explained the agenda and procedure for the meeting clearly and concisely. Not enjoyable: fewer than 50 people attended.

For the UVSS to be able to pass any motions or resolutions at an AGM, it must have quorum  — attendance by six-tenths of one percent of the member population (102 people in this case). All current undergraduate students who pay fees to the society are members and are allowed to attend and vote. Only 48 people came to the meeting, so no motions were passed. Since the meeting had over 20 attendees, it was allowed to carry out some business, including adopting the budget for 2012-2013 and approving the audit of last year’s financial statements.

For the Students’ Society, this is business as usual. Last year’s Annual General Meeting did not reach quorum, and the Semi-Annual General Meeting last February didn’t even have 20 attendees.

Lucia Orser, director of external relations with the UVSS, says that “reaching quorum has always been a challenge.” To advertise this meeting, the society emailed every undergraduate student, hung posters throughout campus and notified people through social media.

One of the items on the agenda was a motion to amend an important section of the constitution. Currently, Section 3 states that if the UVSS is ever dissolved, its remaining assets will be held in trust by the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) until a new society is established. The proposed motion would have changed the section so that the assets would be held by UVic instead.

The amendment is in the UVSS’ best interests. “We have been in court with the CFS over the past number of years over whether or not we are members,” says Orser. “We have a much more stable and secure relationship with UVic.”

However, she says that the society is highly unlikely to dissolve.

This motion was on the last three general meeting agendas. Because the meeting did not reach quorum, the motion will have to be considered again at a policy development meeting and voted on again.

The UVSS urges students to participate in these meetings. Orser notes that “instances in recent years where the society has been successful in reaching quorum is when there are motions on the agenda which cause debate amongst our members.”