UVSS gets quorum at SAGM, loses it 30 minutes later

Campus News

Board passes small policy language clarifications

For the first time in five years, the UVSS’ Semi-Annual General Meeting [SAGM] reached quorum. Then, almost exactly 30 minutes later, they lost it. Within that time, four motions were passed.

In the past seven years, the SAGM has achieved quorum of 108 undergraduate students twice, but neither sustained it for longer than half an hour.

The promise of quorum began to take root in the crowd at 3:15 p.m., (15 minutes past the SAGM’s scheduled start time) when Interim Director of Outreach & University Relations Pierre-Paul Angelblazer informed the waiting crowd that they were 30 students shy.

“Go wrangle people,” said Kelly Clark, UVSS Membership Outreach and Communications Officer. “Text your friends.”

There were 127 students in attendance during the height of the meeting. A vocal abundance, including second year Julien Appleby, were more aware of advertised perks than the SAGM’s significance.

“What is this?” said Appleby. “I don’t know what this is. I’m just here for the pizza.”

Once the meeting was called to order at 3:33 p.m., the UVSS moved quickly through amendments.

A student votes at the 2018 SAGM. Photo by Belle White, Photo Editor

The two motions that passed in the first few minutes were purely linguistic clarifications: like changing “Society Act” to “Societies Act” in the UVSS bylaws. Another approved motion focused on altering the policy around electronic ballots in referendums — paper ballots will now be used in the event of technological failure. Finally, the majority of Board of Directors members required to call a referendum was altered from half to two-thirds, dependent on two-thirds board attendance and advance notice on the meeting agenda.

Contention arose against a motion to remove the existing mandate of 14 days notice to be given in advance of referenda and general meetings, including posters and a half-page advertisement in the official student newspaper. Among those who spoke out in opposition was Kenya Rogers, who argued that not including explicit requirements for due notice in UVSS policy invites the potential for this process to be not upheld in the future.

“Institutional knowledge is not necessarily carried over from one board to another,” Rogers said.

Those in favour of the amendment argued that by removing due notice guidelines, the UVSS could potentially respond to student issues with more immediate and flexibility, independent from the bi-weekly publication schedule of the Martlet.

“I’m not sure how the UVSS being subject to the printing schedules of a separate society is necessary,” said Mackenzie Cumberland, UVSS Director of Finance and Operations.

However, multiple students voiced concern over a reduced accessibility to information regarding UVSS board meetings under this updated policy.

“I wouldn’t have been able to come if this isn’t the policy,” said one member of the crowd. “I think it’s important to keep this going and to keep it in the Martlet.”

“What is this?” said Appleby. “I don’t know what this is. I’m just here for the pizza.”

Before a consensus could be reached, Angelblazer announced that the meeting had lost quorum at 3:33 p.m. and that the crowd could no longer vote to amend bylaws or claim any of the elusive door prizes. Without the promise of active democracy and Patagonia backpacks, most attendees filed out shortly after.

In the reports by the Board of Directors, Cumberland stated that the UVSS is currently $26,000 ahead of budget, chipping away at the six-figure debt the society has amassed. They have also attempted to combat what she called a “negative public image” through rebranding efforts since the start of the 2017 fall semester.

Noor Chasib, UVSS Director of Events, said that he is “cautiously optimistic” about an end-of-term concert that has been in the works for several months. The event is not yet a guarantee, as Chasib stated there is still a lot to be done, but he hopes to have good news in the next few weeks.

Looking forward to the upcoming UVSS election, Cumberland announced that campaigning will begin on Feb. 19, the week after reading break. Angelblazer, who is running for re-election, anticipates a “relatively uneventful election” — a reference to the fact that there is only one full slate running.

Finally, Dana Johnson, a volunteer with the UVic Sustainability Movement announced their petition for UVic to switch to a reusable container program, which can be signed online here.

Although this SAGM may not have seen any dynamic change come from the debate on UVSS policy, it wasn’t entirely futile. To paraphrase Alfred Lord Tennyson, it’s better to have had and lost quorum than never to have had quorum at all.

The SAGM crowd — at one point quorate, at another not. Photo by Belle White, Photo Editor