Board size reduces and impeachment made simpler at RSU Annual General Meeting

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By Madi Wong and Valerie Dittrich

At this year’s Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM), students voted in favour of a number of motions including reducing the RSU board size and making it easier to impeach its members.

Amongst the motions brought forward, the only one that did not pass was the motion to ban cross-faculty slates from running. Students also voted to table the motion to dissolve the vice-president marketing position to the Semi-Annual General (SAGM) meeting in November.

This year’s AGM was the first since 2015 to reach the quorum of 100 students, which is necessary in order for motions to be voted on. Vice-president equity Karolina Surowiec and vice-president operations Savreen Gosal did not attend the meeting.

Here’s what else you missed.

Motion to create a graduate student union—PASSED

The motion to introduce a graduate student union was first introduced in November at the SAGM. It will create a separate executive board and restructure the graduate council within the RSU.

The Eye previously reported that the original plan was to have the graduate council as a separate entity from the RSU, but that plan was scrapped to focus more on restructuring the role of the graduate council already within the RSU.

“We only get two seats on the board out of the 45 that exist,” said Amber Grant, deputy chairperson education for the graduate council of the RSU. “Any sort of graduate concern that’s brought to the board is often turned down due to the lack of understanding that undergrads and grads students wanting different things.”

Now that the motion has passed, the graduate council will represent graduate students through developing unpaid director and executive positions that will allow them to have a separate voice from the undergraduate students at Ryerson University.

Motions to create a mental health and wellbeing committee, reduce campaign expenses—PASSED

At the SAGM, a motion was forwarded by Suroweic to create a new committee specifically for furthering mental health advocacy and wellbeing on campus.

The new committee will be tasked with “furthering the mental health and wellness interests of the Union” through leading and supporting campaigns for mental health advocacy and eradicating stigmas.

Photo: Kosalan Kathiramalanathan

Olson Crow, former RSU vice-president equity and chair of the meeting, credited Hollie Olenik, Faculty of Communication and Design director, for working on the mental health committee for two years.

The motion was omnibussed at the AGM with a motion to reduce campaign expenses. The previous campaign expenses were $500 per president and vice-president candidate.

“Not a single slate this year used their full amount of money,” said Faculty of Arts director James Fotak. “We should be prioritizing student groups and equity groups over campaign budgets.”

The new budget cannot exceed $250 for students campaigning for an executive position, or $100 for directors and graduate representatives.

Motion to eliminate the role of VP marketing—tabled to SAGM

The vice-president marketing position was created at the SAGM as the RSU’s sixth executive position.

Former RSU president Ram Ganesh moved the motion, citing that the team needed help with their communications.

In the 2019 RSU elections, Victoria Anderson-Gardner was elected into the role.

Board of directors member and senate groups representative Fahim Khan, who presented the motion at the AGM, says that while he has “full faith in next year’s team,” the RSU needs to be “realistic” on where they spend their money, suggesting split the work into multiple Career Boost positions.

“There are other ways to tackle the issue of better communication,” he said.

The motion to table the decision to the next SAGM in November was put forward by Faculty of Community Services director Cristal Hines.

Incoming RSU president Vanessa Henry. Photo: Kosalan Kathiramalanathan

Incoming RSU president Vanessa Henry said that the position is “worth exploring” and that the union should wait to how the position does. She said that if it were to be axed now, it would push the RSU “backwards instead of forward.”

The VP marketing position will be paid $36,000 a year. The motion, if passed at the SAGM, would see the position absolved for the 2020-21 school year.

Motion to reduce the size of the board—PASSED

Put forth by RSU president Maklane deWever, the motion to reduce the number of directors on the current Board of Directors (BoD) passed.

He said that having a room with a smaller group versus a room of 40 people would allow for decision making to be more effective moving forward.

“An important principle of good governance is having a smaller decision making structure,” said deWever.

RSU President Maklane deWever. Photo: Kosalan Kathiramalanathan

The Eye previously reported that if this motion were to pass, it would reduce the size of the board by about one-third.

Under the new board size requirements, the total number of directors will be determined based on one director per 1,600 students. Currently it is calculated on the basis of having one director per 1,100 students.

In addition, the number of directors per faculty should not exceed the number of directors produced through the two smallest faculties. However, each faculty will have a minimum of two directors.

This change would not be implemented until the 2020-21 RSU elections.

Motion to allow easier impeachment—PASSED

According to the motion brought forward by deWever, it is nearly impossible for a member of the BoD or RSU executive to be impeached because the current bylaws require two thirds of the entire board to be present at the meeting to vote.

DeWever explained that previously two thirds of the board had to affirmatively vote yes in order to impeach. Due to this bylaw, he said if there were members that abstained from voting or did not show up, their vote did not count towards impeachment, but it still counted towards the two thirds majority required to pass. He said this made it difficult to impeach former RSU president Ram Ganesh earlier this year.

“What this vote will do is accurately reflect what the board sees…and it’s aligning it with the rest of the bylaws,” said deWever.

With the passing of the motion, it will now only take two thirds of the directors present at a meeting to vote in favour for impeachment, and board members who are not present or abstained from voting will not count towards that number. The members can present their vote in person or call in remotely.

Motion to ban slates—FAILED

According to the motion, this would address concerns of how cross board slates contradict the ability of a good governance, create power dynamics and prevent efficient accountability of executives.

Photo: Kosalan Kathiramalanathan

The motion stated that candidates from different faculties could not run on the same slate in an RSU election, executive candidates can’t run on the same slate as faculty members, and there cannot be any official endorsements

At the March BoD meeting, deWever said that banning slates would improve democracy at the university and allow for elections to be more accessible to students.

Motion to plan a student strike against the provincial government’s education cuts—PASSED

Moved forward by the president of Ryerson’s Socialist Fightback group, Hermes Azam, this motion would require the RSU to commit to organizing a school-wide strike against premier Doug Ford’s cuts to education and the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

The RSU is to call on the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario to organize a one-day student strike in September, as well as organize their own one-day strike at Ryerson.

Motion for student groups to be ratified—PASSED

Two new Ryerson student groups were ratified at the AGM: RU Table Talk and Ryerson Vocalist Society.

According to RSU campus groups coordinator Dawn Murray, RU Table Talk is inspired by Red Table Talk and would present an open forum and platform for students to voice opinions on various important topics, as well as develop and improve on their speaking skills and collaboration with others.

RU Vocalist Society, formerly known as Ryenamics, is an acapella group on campus who has worked closely with Ryerson musicians and has performed for a variety of events on campus, including alumni events.

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