Oct. 28 marked the UVSS Annual General Meeting, and having achieved quorum after a half-hour delay, several bylaw amendments as well as the 2015-2016 draft budget were ratified. While much of the agenda passed with ease, concerns were raised over two amendment proposals in particular: the motions to amend bylaws 4.9 and 8.1.
Bylaw 8 relates to the duties and responsibilities of UVSS directors, and the amendment to 8.1 proposed both a change in language, with the Chairperson being renamed Director of Outreach and University Relations, and in practice, with the Director being able to delegate their duty of chairing UVSS board meetings to a third party as approved by the remainder of the board with a two-thirds majority split.
Additionally, the Director of Outreach and University Relations would expand the previous role of Chairperson to oversee member outreach projects and volunteer co-ordination. Concerns were raised regarding the functionality of this change, and the ability of UVSS directors to remain clearly accessible and accountable to the student body; one student remarked that having a clearly designated Chairperson made it clear to outside groups who was the head of the executive body. However, the motion ultimately passed with a decisive majority of votes.
The membership voted to omnibus a number of other motions, including amendments to Bylaws 8.5 (Director of External Relations), 12.3 (Signing Officers of the Students’ Society), and the entirety of Bylaw 23 (Office of the Ombudsperson).
The proposed amendment to section 4 of the bylaws stirred passionate responses among the participating students. As it concerned a change to requisite quorum, many felt it was akin to limiting democratic processes at UVic. The current requirement for quorum is 0.6 per cent of the student body, or 110 students according to current enrolment. The amendment proposed a decrease to 0.5 per cent — 91 students. After a lengthy discussion regarding the values of remaining representative of the student constituents, and concerns over functionality (as quorum is generally difficult to achieve, even at the already modest 0.6 per cent requirement), the motion was narrowly defeated, having failed to accrue the necessary 75 per cent of voters present.
Three proposed resolutions were passed as omnibus: amendments to Bylaw 8.5. in which the Director of External Resolutions was renamed the Director of Campaigns and Community Relations, and the International Student Representative was christened the Director of International Student Relations. Neither brought a change in the duties of either position. Bylaw 12.3 was amended to reflect the ability of the Board to delegate signing of the financial reports to a third party if the Executive Director or General Manager is absent. Bylaw 23, dealing with the Office of the Ombudsperson, was completely struck and rewritten to better reflect the duties the office was already performing.
There was additionally a resounding passing of a motion put forward against any lobbying on the part of UVic to deregulate tuitions, in professional or any other programs. This came in light of planned efforts by UVic administration to lobby the provincial government to deregulate tuition caps.
Passing of the 2015-2016 budget
The budget was accepted, but the financial report was not without controversy. In particular, a massive jump in the labour spending portion leaves a sizeable divot in UVSS coffers, and the fact that the independent food providers in the SUB, including Felicita’s, are in debt to the tune of $79 000 dollars. On the brighter side, health care plans have been able to build a tidy cushion, enabling a greater focus on mental health and accessibility on campus.
The reports from board staff were focused on the achievements of the staff and their future plans; highlights include a reaffirmation of the Board’s commit-ment to activism and fighting for students’ rights to accessible, affordable education, the restructuring of UVSS to a functioning non-profit, and the emphasis on a dynamic, open structure of governance. There was also an emphasis on the efforts to consider gendered violence on campus and that consciousness-raising efforts are ongoing. The report ended with a discussion of Bill 41, and a declaration of the Board’s intent to work against it.