The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union held their annual general meeting on Nov. 21, where the main debate was over amendments on a motion to abolish the Code of Ethics and Disciplinary Committee and reconstitute it as the Code of Ethics Disciplinary Tribunal.
The role of the AGM is to evaluate the USSU bylaws with students — a minimum of 50 students and 15 members of University Students’ Council are required to meet quorum — and discuss the possibility of passing amendments to any changes that are being put forward. All amendments are voted on by those present, with only those passing by a majority plus one being written into the bylaws.
The main issue at hand was the intention to remove the CEDC from the bylaws due to a feeling among the USSU executive that the committee was ineffective in its current state.
Members of the CEDC said they lacked proper knowledge to maintain their roles, were not being properly supported in their decisions and had vague powers that were not properly delineated. Other issues over the CEDC included that the information used by committee members was not adequately presented and that the committee, by definition, is inherently required to report their decisions back to the students’ council as a whole.
USSU Vice-President Academic Affairs Jordan Sherbino summarized the problems with the CEDC, describing it as “people making a decision that didn’t necessarily matter when they didn’t know what they were doing with information that they didn’t know how to get.”
Changes made in reconstituting the group as the CEDT included the introduction of the general manager to provide a sense of continuity and guidance when called upon, ensuring that members would receive proper instruction and orientation about their duties as well as to remove the program as a committee of council and create a separate entity that would have its own distinct power.
The newly adopted tribunal, whose primary function is to issue disciplinary action among members of council and executive members as is required, will consist of the USSU president, the general manager and three councillors of varying constituencies who will be elected by the remaining members of students’ council.
A debate was sparked to have the general manager removed as a standing member of the tribunal, with the possibility that the position be filled — as proposed by former USSU president Jared Brown — by the union’s lawyer on retainer. Vice-President Operations and Finance Jenna Moellenbeck argued that bringing their lawyer into the process would ultimately be too expensive.
With only four votes in favour, the amendment failed.
A further amendment to the issue was brought up claiming that allowing the defendant to bring an advocate into the process, even at the discretion of the CEDT, would be akin to “lawyering up” and may overly complicate the disciplinary process.
Those present at the AGM were split evenly on the matter and the proposed change to the amendment was taken off the table.
One final amendment was brought into question on the CEDT, which moved to relocate a portion of Section 87 of the bylaw — Subsections Eight and Nine, specifically, which dictate the defendant’s appeal process — into a separate subsection so as to more appropriately define their intentions. With a majority vote, the amendment to the subsection was passed.
All other amendments to the remaining bylaw sections were passed with little debate.
The AGM began with an address from USSU President Max FineDay. He summarized the challenges and accomplishments the executive members have had in this academic year, including an update on his proposed open-textbook program and his push for a first term reading week.
Though the AGM saw enough students present to meet quorum, some USSU executives were disappointed with the turnout.
“I think that the U of S campus is very diverse. There’s a lot of different student groups around campus — international students, domestic students, students from across the country, even from different colleges,” said Vice-President Student Affairs Nour Abouhamra.
“I don’t think [the AGM was] an accurate representation of our campus because … it wasn’t as diverse as I would have liked it to be. I wasn’t surprised at who was there, but I would have liked to see more diversity.”
Fifth-year political studies and philosophy major Nick Marlatte, who was present at the meeting, likewise believed that the AGM was not an accurate representation of the U of S student population.
“A lot of the attending students there happened to be rather involved with student politics or related organizations on campus, and it would be of great benefit to the USSU if the AGM were better promoted to get a wider range of students to the meeting,” Marlatte said.
However, FineDay said the AGM saw promotion “on Facebook, Twitter, obviously the back page of the Sheaf … I talked to the association of constituency presidents to tell their members; we told the [members of students’ council] to tell their members.
“We tried in a number of ways to advertise so that students [would] know.”
Photo: Evan Neufeld