By Jen Gerson
Almost 300 students’ opinions were swept under the carpet at RyeSAC’s Semi-Annual General Meeting last Wednesday.
Record numbers came to protest controversial policies put in place by the current executive, but the members were told their views didn’t count for much because the motions passed may not be binding.
This means that the board of directors won’t have to abide by the decisions of the membership. Chair of the meeting Robin Rix explained that there was disagreement about whether members’ motions would be binding. The chair left the issue unresolved but allowed the debates to proceed anywaya decision that took heat from former RyeSAC president Ken Marciniec, who called it unprecedented.
“To say it may or may not be binding’ and ‘we’ll figure it out later’ flies in the face of natural justice,” said Marciniec. “What’s the point of having a meeting?”
Ram Sivapalan steered the first motion towards hiring policies, saying that he and Nora Loreto were unfairly denied job interviews, though they were qualified applicants. “We believe there should be a hiring policy set forth by RyeSAC,” he said.
Vice President Education Rebecca Rose supported the idea. Rose was the only candidate on her slate to be elected into the executive. “It sends a message saying that if you’re looking for a job at RyeSAC you will not be judged [on] anything [unimportant].”
By the end of the debate, the motion passed. The topic then turned to RyeSAC’s involvement with the Canadian Federation of Students. RyeSAC was one of the founding members of the CFS, which is a student lobby group claiming a membership of 70 student unions and half-a-million members.
This summer, the RyeSAC board of directors proposed a referendum to leave the CFS. But bylaws require RyeSAC to poll 10 per cent of the electorate to prove that students are interested in a vote, which was not done. “We are not legally in a position to have a referendum. This makes no sense,” said Loreto, a second-year journalism student.
The motion to rescind the referendum passed 122 in favour, 22 opposed with two abstentions. The next issue on the agenda brought out residence staff. During the summer, the board of directors gave RyeSAC President MacLean and Cristina Ribeiro, vice president student life, spaces in Pitman Hall for free. Rose and Derek Isber, vice president finance, were offered subsidies for their living expenses.
Rose did not accept the subsidy.
“I work really hard for my one-bedroom apartment and it really bothers me,” said Nick Gauthier, who lost a seat on this year’s executive. “It’s a bad idea and you’re really pissing people off,” he said during the meeting.
Ribeiro stood up and said the board decided to offer her the room without her input. She said she was forced into taking it. The motion to disallow future RyeSAC executives free or subsidized housing was ruled out of order. But an informal poll revealed that 17 people were in favour of offering executives free rooms and 59 were opposed.
The poll, like the other non-binding motions passed at the meeting is expected to be debated at the next board meeting on Nov. 17.