The following is a play-by-play of this years General Assembly.
After over an hour of waiting to reach the quorum of 51 people, the Dawson Student Union’s (DSU) General Assembly – scheduled to start at 2 – began at 3:17 on April 25, 2018.
A headcount by Jamil Al Selkhi, a student who volunteered to count votes throughout the meeting, confirmed that quorum had been reached and the meeting could officially commence. The agenda was proposed by Shanti Nia and Nicholas Harvest, who are both employed by the DSU. Nia kept the minutes while Harvest moderated the discussion. Gary-Joseph Panganiban, Editor-in-Chief of The Plant, proposed to amend the proposed agenda to add the discussion of DSU Procedures. The motion passed and was adopted into the agenda.
3:22: A few rows of people left the 4C.1 Amphitheater. No one called for quorum, so their departure went unacknowledged. Harvest explained that calling for quorum would mean doing another headcount. If 51 people were not present, the assembly would be put on pause until 51 people could be gathered.
After some discussion on how much time the candidates for next years DSU Administration should have to introduce themselves, Jada O’Donoughue called for quorum. The assembly was put on pause.
3:43: A new headcount was made and quorum was reached with 54 people present. Almost 2 hours since the assembly was scheduled to start and still nothing substantial had happened.
3:49: The candidates introduced themselves and delivered their campaign pitches. The floor was then opened for questions.
Valeria Lau, Managing Editor for The Plant, asked both Treven Caprani Goppy and Cheranda Fraser Williams if they think any mistakes were made under the current Administration. To this, Williams replied in a pointed tone: “I don’t think we necessarily made mistakes,” continuing, “the only change I believe we could’ve made would’ve been to spread the word to students about what the DSU does, to get them more involved”.
I then asked, “Where is the student council?”. Beat. The new candidates looked at each other in utter confusion. No one seemed to know what a student council was. Beat. Ryan Thérien, who is running for Director of Internal Affairs and Advocacy, asked “Do you mean where the student council is literally?”. Beat. Goppy came to the mic to answer my question, stating: “There is no student council.”
To follow up on my question, Panganiban stated: “The by-laws stipulate that there should be a student council” that is comprised of students from all programs, meant to represent the general student body and ensure that DSU executives respect the DSU policies and by-laws. He then posed the question “Is this something that you want to bring to the table next year?”. Goppy replied that a student council would be an “interesting proposal” to increasing student involvement, but there are “no plans on implementing it.”
Next to discuss on the agenda was the Proposed Budget for 2018-2019. Special Project Funding (SPF) will be given $30 000 next year, which is $6000 more than this year. SPF is used to monetarily help student projects. Williams listed that Legacy, Ladies and Gents, and the DSU Cuba trip all received SPF, adding that “We were able to use some of the SPF to heavily subsidize the trip we took to Cuba”. The other recipients just “slipped [Williams’] mind”. Williams is our current Treasurer and is running to be re-elected.
Afterwards, Lau proposed to move $10 000 of the $35 000 allocated to the Retreats to Sustainability, leaving the Retreats with $25 000 and giving Sustainability $17 000. The motion was seconded by Evan Luxenberg, News Editor for The Plant, and passed to a vote. With the majority vote, the motion was passed.
Williams then explained how the $40 000 designated to Mobilization has been and will be spent. The cost is divided between posters, custom Snapchat filters, DSU water bottles, t-shirts, and any DSU merchandise. She continued to say that the $30 000 for Executive/Employee Benefits covers their transportation costs and phone bills. Each Executive or Employee is allowed to redeem at most $2000 each year.
As the Budget portion of the Assembly was ending, Panganiban proposed to amend the Budget by taking $3000 and giving it to The Plant. The decision on where $3000 comes from would be up to the Treasurer’s discretion. The motion was passed, resulting in The Plant having $14 000 for the next school year.
When asked about the accessibility of the 2018-2019 Budget, Williams said “I can print this out and give it to you after.”
When asked if the finalized Budget could be posted in an easy to find place, Williams answered “umm, yeah, okay.”
Next on the agenda was the DSU Procedures, a point added by Panganiban.
4:41: O’Donoughue calls for quorum. With only 20 minutes left in the Amphitheater, the assembly fizzled out. In an annoyed and confused frenzy, the room slowly emptied. All of the topics and decisions not addressed during the General Assembly will be remedied by the DSU.
In summary, the General Assembly was successful in the sense that students got to edit the Budget to their liking and have a say in how their money is spent. Students got to get involved in the politics of their school and learn more about how decisions are made. If the Assembly was better promoted more students might have showed up and reaching quorum wouldn’t have been such an ongoing predicament.