UVSS meets quorum, passes bylaw changes at SAGM


Board passes salary increase and changes to job descriptions for lead directors

File graphic by Niusha Derakhshan.

On Feb. 25, the UVSS held their semi-annual general meeting (SAGM) over Zoom. Amidst the colourful powerpoints and expensive prizes, including an iPad, AirPods, and three $100 OneCard credits, students were given the chance to have a say on the board’s proposed policy and bylaw changes. Lead directors also reported on their accomplishments during their term and answered questions from the mostly faceless audience.

For the first time in eight years, the UVSS was able to maintain quorum for more than half an hour. The number of student attendees needed to pass motions this year was 112. Items on the agenda included a lead director salary increase of roughly $3/hour to $18.50/hour with a one per cent increase per year, as well as adjustments to the job descriptions of lead directors. 

The first motion involved striking all mentions of the UVic graduating class from the UVSS bylaws due to the class’s decision to dissolve the long-standing and inefficient group. Nominally meant to fund and organize events for UVic grads, it has rarely been used as most grads have favoured scheduling events themselves.

In fact, one of the reasons for the group’s dissolution was the lack of student knowledge about it, and resulting limited participation. This was evidenced by the flood of audience questions about the purpose of the group.

Almost an hour of the two-hour meeting was spent discussing the salary increase for lead directors. Over a dozen people spoke to the motion, with most in favour, citing the lack of affordability for students in Victoria and the full-time nature of the positions.

UVSS Director of Campaigns and Community Relations Emily Lowan also stated that the board worried that the current pay structure would discourage some students from running for a lead director position. She also told the audience that this motion, if passed, would not increase the UVSS fee levy. Currently, the fee is $76.85 for full-time students and $38.39 for part-time students per semester.

Audience member Hazam Nasir, who is running to be the next director of student affairs, disagreed, saying that the UVSS should not be raising salaries during a time of economic uncertainty.

“When students start hitting back on campus in September, they’re likely going to be hesitant about using the services that the UVSS provides,” said Nasir. “Meaning that our income and revenue is not going to be as high as we would like it to be to keep meeting surpluses.”

The motion passed with over two-thirds of the votes in favour. 

The last motion was a routine procedure to update the roles and responsibilities of the lead directors. This is a feature of every SAGM as the old board modifies the bylaws based on their own experience in order to provide a reference point for the new board.

The last portion of the meeting contained the directors’ annual reports. This is also a feature of every SAGM and allows board members to inform the student body of what they have accomplished during their term and what initiatives remain ongoing.

Director of Outreach and University Relations Sarina de Havelyn was first up. She discussed her role in lobbying the university to modify student transcripts and in implementing mandatory cultural acumen and suicide prevention training for campus security.

Lowan mentioned her work with Divest UVic and the Rent with Rights campaign.

This year, Divest UVic successfully lobbied the university to divest their $225 million Working Capital Fund of fossil fuel investments. This represented the partial culmination of almost a decade of campaigning.

Director of Finance Caleb Burd mentioned his ongoing work to reduce the SUB’s carbon footprint and to design a mural in the SUB in partnership with the NSU.

The rest of the directors spoke to the various accomplishments being made under their portfolios, including implementing sexualized violence prevention training for all clubs and course unions and establishing a Learning Allyship and Solidarity Book Club.

Following board reports and a quick question period, the SAGM officially came to a close, wrapping up one of few UVSS SAGMs where quorum was met and motions were actually voted on.