Qualms over quorum at UVSS general meetings

Campus News

At the Semi-Annual General Meeting (SAGM) on Feb. 5, the UVSS will put forward a motion to amend bylaw 4.9, which speaks to quorum requirements at general meetings. Currently, the bylaw states that “quorum for general meetings shall be six tenths of one per cent (0.6).” The proposed changes will lower the necessary number required to make quorum to 0.5 per cent.

“There are mixed opinions among directors as to whether [lowering quorum] is a good idea or not,” said Kaylee Szakacs, UVSS Director of Student Affairs, in an email. Though more accessible membership and higher chances of passing productive bylaw changes are two potential benefits of reducing quorum, according to Szakacs, there are also drawbacks to the proposal.

“I personally disagree with the amendment,” said UVSS Chairperson Kayleigh Erickson via email. “I understand the frustration with not obtaining quorum, but 0.5 per cent of students makes everything less democratic and less representative.”

Though the UVSS board promotes and advertises their general meetings, there is still a lack of student engagement, according to Szakacs. “We’re competing with busy class, work, and social schedules. To a busy student, the very concept of a general meeting sounds like a dry and bureaucratic thing,” Szakacs explained.

“Not many students care enough to spend hours of their time to go to a meeting that they have no personal stake in,” said Solly Lazar, Vice-President UVic Archers Club. “Obviously lowering the quorum isn’t ideal, but it’s better than having one too few people show up to a meeting and being forced to delay the agenda another month.”

“I can see how it will be simultaneously beneficial and detrimental,” Szakacs said. “On one hand, we are constantly updating our policy and bylaws and need quorum for those changes to take effect. On the other hand, too low of a quorum is not democratic.”

The UVSS encourages students to come to the SAGM and vote on the proposed changes to quorum.

“[It’s] everyone’s democratic right to voice their opinions and vote. Decisions are made by the people who show up, and it was be upsetting to see an amendment passed that isn’t in actuality supported by the majority of our membership,” said Erickson.