Very serious business

// Frank Paul

Controversy arose in the Maple building lounge at the CSU’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Oct. 27, due to a resolution that was submitted by a general member.

As it always does during this time of year, the CSU held its AGM on Oct. 27 in the CSU Student Lounge. The purpose of the annual meeting is to report to the membership the doings of the executive committee in the past six months, and to present proposed resolutions that the CSU executive committee does not have the power to make themselves (i.e. bylaw changes or matters that are restricted by the bylaws).

Following the establishment of quorum (the minimum number of members required for the meeting to proceed, in this case 40), external chairperson Ben West called the meeting to order. After the presentation of the 2010/2011 audited financial statements, and an update from the Building Committee about the new student space to be constructed in the Library building, the meeting proceeded to the largest item on the agenda, the consideration of the proposed resolutions.

The meeting’s agenda had a whopping 14 proposed resolutions, which was amended to move three particular resolutions to be considered before the others. These three motions pertained to the construction of a new student lounge, to a bylaw that was alleged to have been broken by the directors, and one, a proposed bylaw change. The discussion of the order in which they should be considered generated a significant amount of discussion before being approved by the assembly.

Parker Busswood, the chair of the CSU’s Building Committee spoke on the first resolution for consideration, which proposed allocating an additional $75,000 from the previous year’s surplus in the annual operating budget to go towards the new student lounge space, for a total cost of $275,000. The additional funds will provide for the purchase of equipment for space including high quality furniture, a projector and screen, and additional electronics. The resolution was adopted without any opposition.

The second resolution, which was proposed by a general member, criticized the CSU’s board of directors for entering into a contract that was prohibited by the bylaw XIII of the CSU, which states, “All contracts and agreements entered into by the union exceeding a gross value of $1,000 must be approved by special resolution at a general meeting.” As was reported previously in the Courier, the CSU recently entered into a legal retainer agreement with the law firm Heenan Blaikie, at a cost of $2,000/month.

The motion stated that because the executive, upon realizing they were in conflict with Bylaw XIII, did not terminate the contract (which allows termination at any time), they acted outside of their authority. The motion asked for the assembly to recognize that the executive acted outside of their authority, that the contract be terminated immediately, and also outlined provisions for what should happen in the event the executive violates CSU bylaws in the future.

A heated debate ensued, which included a justification of the benefits of the legal retainer agreement by the CSU directors. However, some members of the audience strongly objected in light of the fact that a bylaw was broken and the sentiment that the agreement should be dissolved until the proper procedure is followed, which in this case would be for the proposal to come to an AGM.

As debate on this resolution wore on, quorum was lost as members in attendance dropped below 40. Due to the loss of quorum, the result of votes on motions are no longer binding, but instead are merely recommendations. A recommendation was then presented by a member that called for a Special General Meeting to be held sometime in the next two months to discuss the remaining resolutions which did not receive consideration. This recommendation was accepted before the AGM was adjourned.

// Frank Paul, Writer
// Photograph by Natahsha Prakash

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