SSMU President Zach Newburgh, along with two of his fellow executives and one Councillor, introduced a notice of motion proposing to abolish the current General Assembly (GA) model, replacing it with an “Annual General Meeting.” SSMU Council is scheduled to vote on the motion at its next meeting, on February 3.
The motion was submitted by Newburgh, VP Finance and Operations Nick Drew, VP Internal Tom Fabian, and Councillor Emilie Leonard, a fact that was announced only after Management Councillor Eli Freedman inquired about its authorship. Speaker of Council Cathal Rooney-Cespedes ruled that debate on the content of the resolution was out of order, due to its status as a notice of motion.
VP External Myriam Zaidi and VP University Affairs Josh Abaki declined to comment on the resolution’s content until it is debated and voted upon at the next Council meeting.
The motion outlines the removal of SSMU bylaws regarding the GA process as it currently exists.
The resolution’s description of the AGM stipulates that “Annual General Meetings shall not entertain any other resolutions that are not contained within Articles 28.1 and 28.2”
These limit the agenda to four items: presentation of the State of the Society, the ratification of nominations to the [SSMU] Board of Directors, a review of audited financial statements, and the nomination of the Financial Auditor.
Under this model, students could submit resolutions for consideration by Council, and no other student body. Resolutions would require motion by fifty Society members or one Councillor, and would remove the option for non-Council members to vote.
The Fall General Assembly, held on October 21, 2010, had difficulty reaching and maintaining quorum: after the GA, Newburgh had told The Daily that the process warranted review and that, due to room occupancy restrictions, the current GA model is “really not a democracy, it’s first-come, first-serve democracy.”
In response to concerns that structural changes to the GA would rid students of an open forum for democratic debate, Newburgh insisted that “now that [the motion] is presented, there are individuals on Council who will ponder this question, [who] will hopefully bring amendments to the floor, and that Steering Committee will now consider the question with real rigor. There is absolutely an intention to ensure that there is more democracy for individuals in the Society.”
Arch Café finally dead?
Councillor Maggie Knight requested an update on the status of Architecture Café discussions.
Newburgh refused to comment publicly on the issue.
A Board of Governors report on January 19th informed Senate that “the October 25, 2010 Executive Committee meeting included an extensive discussion of a comprehensive report provided by the Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning).”
“The Committee concluded that there was no apparent basis for the Board to reconsider the administrative decision to close the Architecture Café given the thorough consideration and well-documented reasons for the closure,” the report read.
It is unclear whether the subject will be presented again at future Council meetings.
Read the full text of the proposal here.