After the Special General Meeting on Feb. 6 adjourned immediately after being called to order, many were left with the question of what would happen to the motions that had been up for vote.
The University Students’ Council meeting on Feb. 27 saw Arts and Science representative Sarah Foley put forward a motion for the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union to hold another SGM on March 26. This would allow students to address the issues that could not be voted on at the previous meeting.
“This was a USSU administrative mistake,” Foley said. “So I think it is our responsibility as a sitting council to deal with this.”
While the SGM on Feb. 6 was adjourned early due to a lack of quorum, the USSU chairperson’s decision to do so has been criticized by students. It was the chairperson’s call not to wait for the meeting to reach quorum nor allow for the members present to vote on whether to adjourn the meeting to a later time. The SGM cost the students’ union around $2,100 and the chairperson has since officially resigned.
The USSU executive spoke against holding another SGM this term because of concerns about timing. President Regan Ratt-Misponas says that the executive is not trying to avoid responsibility by making this recommendation to the council.
“We spent a lot of time trying to ensure that all the amendments that were proposed could be addressed. So we’re in no way trying to play hot potato with these issues or these concerns,” Ratt-
The executive expressed concern with the tight time frame for having another SGM, especially so late in the term and towards the end of their time in office. They also brought up that it is already too late for the bylaw changes to come into place before the USSU 2020 elections.
“I think that we wish we could do something, but in terms of timing … it just does not make sense at this time,” Ratt-Misponas said.
Autumn LaRose-Smith, vice-president student affairs, says that the next USSU executive might put forward during their term their own solutions to issues. The main issue being discussed in the aftermath of the Feb. 6 SGM is a motion that would have allowed international students to run for executive positions within the union.
“I want nothing more than to be able to say that we did it,” LaRose-Smith said. “But just to say that we did it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was the right thing to do… They might put forward a better motion.”
International students have been advocating for this change since September 2019 and are eager to see it happen. One of the main concerns at the USC meeting was that if the council voted not to have an SGM, the international students’ cause would remain unresolved despite the USSU’s public promise to help them.
“If we don’t hold an SGM to make up for the one we lost, and if for any reason the proposed amendments don’t pass at the next AGM, then the invested parties could hold us at least partly responsible for those not passing — and it would be fair of them to do so,” a council member said.
However, the concerns about timing won in the end; Foley’s motion was voted down. The next time students can submit amendments to the USSU bylaws will be at the AGM in November 2020. For now, Ratt-Misponas has committed to putting a suggestion to revisit the international students’ concerns on his transition document for the next USSU president to keep in mind.
“That doesn’t mean that they necessarily will; that is up to the decision of that executive,” Ratt-Misponas said. “But I am willing to put that within my transition package.”