At the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Council meeting last Wednesday, the East Asian Students’ Society Association (EASSA) was stripped of their funding as a result of the second absence of Alexandra von Zadora-Gerlof, the EASSA representative to AUS.
According to the AUS Constitution, missing two Council meetings without providing written notice five days in advance results in the removal of AUS funding from the departmental association and in the suspension of their seat indefinitely.
Von Zadora-Gerlof was absent from Council on October 17 and 24.
Justin Fletcher, AUS VP Internal and former EASSA representative to AUS, told The Daily, “After [von Zadora-Gerlof] had missed the October 24th council, I emailed the departmental association telling them that their seat has been suspended and here is how they can reclaim it.”
Von Zadora-Gerlof’s seat was reinstated during last Wednesday’s meeting of AUS Council, though the association’s funding will remain suspended for the rest of the semester.
The October 24 meeting was a special session of Council, called to approve the AUS referendum questions.
According to Fletcher, the meeting was called at the October 17 meeting – at which von Zadora-Gerlof was not present – as well as over emails from AUS President Devon LaBuik and the speaker.
Fletcher added that the AUS Constitution allows the president to call such sessions.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but we do take attendance at AUS Council very seriously,” he said.
In an email to The Daily, the EASSA executive wrote, ”Owing to some personal matters, our AUS rep was unable to attend the first meeting, and a bit of a miscommunication resulted in her being unable to attend the second […] However, at the last AUS meeting [on] Wednesday, the matter was discussed and resolved.”
To reclaim a suspended seat – as mandated in section 9.1.2 of the AUS Constitution – a departmental association must notify AUS five days before the next Council to be put on the agenda. Once at the Council meeting, they must receive a majority vote in favour of their reinstatement.
“Last night, we voted whether or not to approve their seat on AUS Council, and we did approve that. However, the article in the Constitution stated that they will lose their funding. So that isn’t negotiable,” said Fletcher.
“Essentially, we just followed the rules in that circumstance,” LaBuik told The Daily. “I think we just had to make a point that they had to be there.”
When asked how the loss of funding would affect EASSA, LaBuik said, “Basically they have to fundraise all the rest of their money for the rest of the semester […] They get their funding for next semester, just not this semester.”
AUS VP Finance Saad Qazi added, “The Constitution doesn’t specify what happens to funding that loses its seat on Council, so I guess that’s up to our discretion.”
According to Qazi, the money intended for EASSA will instead be put into a supplementary departmental fund, for which all the departmental associations can apply. EASSA, however, must wait until next semester to apply.
“[EASSA] have already submitted a budget with loss of funding taken into account,” said Qazi.
“It’s upsetting it happened so early in the semester, but we did reinstate their seat,” said Fletcher. “We did attach a clause in the resolution though that one further absence this year will result in the immediate revocation of future funding and voting rights at AUS Council.”
He added, “I really hope this won’t happen with any other of the associations. It was a very difficult motion to present.”
According to the AUS website, there are 111 students in EASSA, which receives $262 per semester from AUS.