Council Connection

May 13th, 2015

May 13’s AUSU council meeting turned into an unexpected marathon session, clocking in at just under two hours. When the meeting wound up at 7:27 pm it was too late to attend the AU Library’s free orientation webinar, which finished at 7 pm.

The slowness of the meeting was partly due to the cancellation of the April council meeting. While there were only a couple additional agenda items to cover, there were, in most cases, two times the executive and committee reports. Add to the mix a new chairperson running the meeting, and time disappears rapidly.

After the approval of the agenda and the previous meeting’s minutes, the next four items pertained to motions voted on before the meeting. All four motions were passed in April or earlier; three of them were voted on using e-mail, and one by telephone. For the May 13 meeting, council was only ratifying the vote on these motions?which simply confirms that the vote took place as stated?and the results become part of the minutes.

Because the motions were presented to council previously, there was no discussion on these items during the meeting. Each motion was read and the results of voting stated. Council then voted to ratify those motions. Four motions were dealt with quickly.

So, if you were hoping to learn why council voted to raise the honorariums of the three executive members of council, beyond what’s stated in the motions, you will be disappointed. Nor will you find out who voted to approve the original motion and who abstained. On the AUSU executive blog, It’s stated that “None of the current Executive team voted in the motion; it passed 5-0 with the 3 Executive members abstaining from the vote.”

What’s not clear is which executive were in place when the vote was held; the date of the vote is not part of the information in the agenda, and no detail was provided on who abstained and for what reason(s.) The new executive team was in place April 1, but council had announced on March 19 that the new executive had “recently” been elected.

These four motions, previously voted on and carried, were ratified at the meeting: the first to raise the council executive honorarium, the second to transfer almost $17K from a budget surplus in Office Wages to Executive Wages to cover adjustments to executive wages, the third to approve then-president Jason Nixon’s request for an unpaid leave of absence from council, and the fourth to approve the appointment of Karyna Hoch to the position of Executive Director.

The latter two of those four motions, when they were first voted on, resulted in press releases, which you can read on the AUSU Press Release page. There were no press releases relating to the first two motions, but there was some information provided in April’s Executive Blog apparently in response to student questions posted on Facebook.

The next six items, all carried forward from the agenda of the cancelled April 21 meeting, continued with policy review and revisions. As a meeting observer, I don’t get a copy of any proposed policy changes, so I rely on the discussion (if any) during the meeting for information. The following policies all relate to Council Governance.

Policy 2.01 Conflict of Interest and Bias. According to discussion during the meeting, “not many changes” were being proposed. However, it was decided to table the motion until June in order to find out if there is an agreement with AU on certain points.

Changes to Policy 2.03 Officers Job Descriptions and Policy 2.06 Student Representation on AU Committees passed after brief discussions on wording.

Discussion on Policy 2.09 Delegation of Authority got hung up on a proposed wording change in section 2.09.04. The change suggested would have the Executive Director (ED) making decisions on operational issues “in consultation with the executive.” Some councillors felt it would be hard to hold an ED accountable if they couldn’t make decisions on their own and had to run everything by council. In the end, the proposed addition of “in consultation with the executive” was dropped.

In addition to proposed amendments to Policy 2.10 Executive Director, some councillors wanted added wording in section 2.10.10 that put a timeframe in place to replace an ED who had resigned or been terminated. Ultimately, a stipulation that the hiring process begin within 60 days was added.

The final policy reviewed, Policy 2.11 Committee Governance, spurred a lengthy discussion comparing current practice with the wording of the policy.

The latter portion of the meeting comprised the various reports from executive members of council as well as committees. Since there was no meeting in April, there were two months? worth of reports in most cases. Reports are not distributed to meeting observers, but some are later posted with the meeting minutes on the AUSU Council Meeting Minutes page.

Here’s are some highlights from the discussions about the submitted reports:

– the President’s report was submitted for March only, and was not discussed. Former president, Jason Nixon, joined the meeting to say farewell to council, and field any questions about his report (there were none.)
– it was observed that AU has yet to address its sustainability issues
– it was confirmed that Alex Poulton has resigned from AUSU council
– a new Executive Director and new Office Administrative Assistant were hired for AUSU’s office. The new ED is now the Editor-in-Chief of The Voice Magazine, which is an “important buffer” between The Voice and AUSU.
– the Finance Committee reported no major concerns. The Voice financials were looked at and no concerns found.
– the Awards committee advised that one computer bursary and one travel bursary had been approved. The applications for the May 1 AUSU scholarship deadline were being reviewed.
– the Member Engagement committee advised that a student survey was launched last week. The AUSU newsletter should be utilized more as it is an “important key communication” with membership. Facebook and Twitter is being utilized more and motions voted on by e-mail are now being posted on Twitter.
– Karyna gave her last report as Office Coordinator; next month she will report as Executive Director. Student planner orders have slowed down; some planners will be taken to convocation for distribution. The office didn’t receive a lot of applications for scholarships May 1. The healthcare plan continues to be monitored. The new Office Administrative Assistant, Donette, started in early May.

Here are a few things I hoped to hear about at the meeting but didn’t:

– which councillors will fill the three executive roles for the remainder of the term? I understand Shawna Wasylyshyn has moved from VP External to President, and Corrina Green continues as VP Finance. Who is the VP External going forward? (Update: AUSU posted May 14, via Facebook and Twitter, that Bonita Arbeau is the new VP External.)
– how will the three vacant seats on council be dealt with? With the recent resignations of both Jason Nixon and Alex Poulton, and a third seat That’s been vacant for a year, there are now only six members of student council, instead of nine. Will there be a by-election to fill the three seats for the remainder of the term?

Mark your calendar and e-mail your RSVP for the May 27 AUSU Annual General Meeting to ausu@ausu.org. It will be held at 5:30 pm MST, and at this meeting, students have a voice! If You’re an AUSU member, you can speak to and vote on each motion. This only happens once a year. You only have power if you exercise it!

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