Running a referendum campaign takes a lot of time, energy, and money, but it has its perks: students have actually sat down to read through the constitution and bylaws of the Daily Publications Society (DPS) to figure out what is going on. We’ve even received some questions about the possibility of a student-initiated referendum as well as the legality of the referendum currently underway. With the DPS’s Annual General Assembly (AGM) just around the corner – and while we still have your attention – we’d like to take a few minutes to break down some of the institutional mechanisms of the DPS.
First things first: the DPS constitution clearly states in article 16 (11e) that referenda “reducing or eliminating membership or fees” are inadmissable. So how is the current referendum even possible, if a No vote would end the DPS membership fee altogether? This referendum is a reaffirmation referendum – it explicitly asks if students will continue paying the fee rather than if they would like to end it. These sorts of questions are not listed as inadmissable by the constitution. What it requires is that any questions about the fee will have to explicitly include the reasons that the papers exist.
Who could bring a referendum forward? At present, only members of the DPS Board of Directors can do so directly, but student-initiated referenda with the same consequences as the current one are also made possible in article 16 (4). Six of the nine voting members of the Board are elected student representatives, who are obliged to act on behalf of any student requesting a referendum by presenting it to the Board. While it does allow any student to initiate a referendum like the current one, the mechanism in place is certainly indirect: it doesn’t allow students to bring forward referenda without the Board’s majority vote. For this reason, board members are discussing amending the constitution at the next AGM to make direct student involvement easier and setting up clear mechanisms to do so.
Since this is still in the discussion stage, new ideas are more than welcome. The AGM is open to all DPS members – all undergraduate and graduate students – and in addition, Board members can be reached through the email address listed in the masthead of The Daily and Le Délit. This year’s AGM will vote in a new crop of student reps to the Board and likely consider some amendments to the constitution: you are more than welcome to attend, run for a director position, bring up questions and ideas, and vote.
We should mention that the AGM is not where decisions are made on editorial staff or the content of the papers, but if you are interested in shaping The Daily’s design, subject matter, or editorial stances, you can do at the level of the editorial board by becoming a staff member. Staff have voting rights equal to any editor, and all you need to become staff is contribute to the paper six times – to get started, email an editor or attend a weekly contributor’s meeting advertised in the paper.
As the semester draws to a close, both papers are looking to the DPS membership for new blood – people to take on editing and design, write stories and bring forward new ideas, and help shape the papers as an institution by sitting on the Board next year. If there was ever a time to get involved, this is it.
You can reach the DPS Board of Directors at firstname.lastname@example.org.