Last Monday, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) held its first General Assembly (GA) of the academic year, an event that yielded few participants.
At peak attendance, there were thirty-eight students present – out of over 7,000 arts undergraduate students – a number that continued to dwindle over the course of the evening.
Because the GA failed to meet its quorum of 150 students, it ran as a consultative body, meaning that procedure continues as normal but that votes are not binding.
Though there was no set agenda for the evening, there were six motions to be discussed, many of which were similar to those brought up at the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU)’s GA last month.
The first motion, a motion regarding departmental democracy, encouraged departmental associations to hold their own GAs one week prior to the one held by the AUS.
Lily Schwarzbaum, a U3 Arts student and one of the movers of the departmental democracy motion, told The Daily she was “unimpressed but unsurprised” with the evening’s results.
“It is because the initiative to make general assemblies happen didn’t come from the councillors but from individual students who last year wanted something specific to pass,” she said. “But there hasn’t been any process to talk about why it is important to have direct democracy.”
Other motions brought forward included a “Motion for Accessible Education,” a “Motion to Oppose the Plan Nord,” a “Motion for a McGill Free from Fossil Fuels,” a “Motion to Create a Students Helping Students Fund,” and a motion from the floor regarding Canadian involvement in Iran.
The only motion that will not move on to be discussed in AUS Council next week was the motion to create a Students Helping Students fund, which was tabled indefinitely.
The motion would require the AUS to allocate $0.75 per student to a fund dedicated to helping students who are working for accessible education or who are affected by a student strike or tuition hike.
AUS President Devon LaBuik told The Daily he thought the evening went “fine.”
“I think we tried our hardest with advertising – that’s apparent,” said LaBuik. “I think we sent out three emails last week. We sent out one Monday as well to get more people to come.”
“In the end, we didn’t get a lot of people, which I was disappointed with because I thought more students would care about coming to support the general assembly,” he continued
When asked whether this was lowest recorded turnout of an AUS GA, LaBuik replied, “Well we have had only three or four GAs in the past several years, so probably…and last year was more politicized, but you have to remember last year some of the GAs didn’t hit quorum either.”
“I think the biggest thing is now we aren’t in the same political environment that we were last year,” LaBuik explained. “This happened with the SSMU GA as well, they didn’t have quorum. First of all, we need to start appealing to students in different ways. Doing more of the same and more emails [is] obviously not working, and we need to appeal to a broader audience than we already have.
Looking forward, he said, “What I would like to start working with, with our VP Communications, is a new campaign that is going to do something more creative with advertising than just blasting people with emails.”
LaBuik also stated that the reason for the GA’s timing so late in the year was due to the Judicial Board case regarding a previous AUS GA, which postponed it significantly.