After losing quorum slightly over an hour into its proceedings, the second Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) General Assembly (GA) of the year saw multiple challenges to the Speaker’s authority, as well as to the representative ability of GAs in general.
Some of the issues discussed at last Tuesday’s GA included formation of a strike committee, tuition hikes, and reforms to AUS Frosh. The GA was held in the Stewart Biology building rather than the Shatner building, as it was last semester.
After reaching quorum, the assembly began debate on a motion for recognition of an AUS strike committee. Following a number of amendments and debate periods, and just prior to voting procedure on the motion, the GA lost quorum.
The loss of quorum results in all motions passed acting as recommendations to the AUS Council, as opposed to binding resolutions. However, Council lost quorum at its meeting on Wednesday before having time to vote on many of these recommendations.
The motion regarding the recognition of an AUS Strike Committee passed at the GA as a recommendation to Council.
The GA then passed a motion regarding accessible education, which would require the AUS to “adopt a policy in favor of accessible education and against all tuition hikes.”
Both of these motions were tabled at Wednesday’s AUS Council until the next scheduled Council meeting on February 15.
At the GA, one AUS member motioned to suspend the rules and indefinitely suspend AUS Speaker Ben Lerer, in which case AUS President Jade Calver would replace him.
Lerer noted that the motion to suspend the Speaker of the GA was allowed, but if there were a desire to suspend the Speaker as a position on AUS Council, “it would have needed to be added to the agenda [earlier].”
The motion was voted on, but ultimately failed without a two-thirds majority.
A motion for the AUS to pursue membership of the pro-strike organization Coalition Large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (CLASSE) was tabled to be voted on at the next GA due to the loss of quorum.
A related special referendum will be held in February. The question to be voted on amends the AUS Constitution so that the GA is the supreme governing body of the Society. The amendment would make the AUS eligible to join CLASSE.
The next motions passed called for the AUS to “be mandated to transform the current AUS Frosh model into a safe space,” and a request for the relocation of the historic Hochelaga Rock.
Both of these motions were passed with minor amendments by the AUS Council on Wednesday before it lost quorum.
Following the GA, there has been criticism regarding the conduct in which the assembly was run.
Jaime Maclean, one of the movers of the motion for recognition of an AUS Strike Committee, and a member of the AUS Mobilization Committee, stated that, while debate is important, at the GA, “The debate period and question period were used almost as stall tactics to avoid voting on the question and to lose quorum before we could actually have the chance to vote.”
Daniel Wolfe, another member of the Mobilization Committee, emphasized that part of the issue lies in the fact that the people do not have “the right to choose the Speaker,” as it is a hired position.
When questioned about the motion to suspend him, Lerer stated that he believed he performed his duties “without bias,” and that he “ensured that debate was not stifled by the majority” during the assembly.
Calver also weighed in with an assertion that “the motion [to suspend the speaker] was invalid under the Robert’s Rules of Order.”
During the GA, Lerer referred to either Calver or the text of Robert’s Rules several times to look up procedure.
Following adjournment of the Council meeting, Mobilization Committee member Amber Gross called the two tabled motions “very disappointing” as they are “really important and time-sensitive” issues.
Calver and Lerer are looking into planning another GA within the next two weeks.