Editorial – Three Things

On Wednesday, May 27th, at 5:30pm MST, AUSU Council will be holding its annual AGM. This is important. If you’re a current student, you need to take the time to attend. It’s free, you can access it through your phone, and the matters being discussed at this year’s AGM are important. Barb Lehtiniemi has an article explaining why these meetings matter over-all, and you should read that, but I’m going to give some reasons why this meeting, especially, is one that students need to attend.

The first reason is that by attending this AGM, you can ask this Council why they thought it was a prudent move to increase the total executive honoraria by over $36,000 while budgeting for a deficit of over $60,000. Even without the honoraria increase, the deficit AUSU is planning is over $24,000. Does this Council have a good explanation as to why they felt it was worth it to add another $36,000 to our deficit?

Secondly, you can use the AGM to ask what are their plans for the over one million dollars of student fees that they have in the bank account. Previous AGM booklets listed some of the projects AUSU was working on for students. This year, that section has been omitted. As the people who are paying with every course you take, you may want to know why and what is intended.

But the most important reason is that this AGM is to ask students if they approve of AUSU’s changes to the policy on referendums and plebiscites. Aside from the AGM, a referendum is the only means by which everyday students can force Council, backed by the authority of the Alberta Government, to take an action that Council doesn’t approve of. So naturally, the referendums policy is protected by the bylaws, to ensure that you, the students, have an opportunity to make sure your ability to direct the organization isn’t lost.

For instance, some other colleges and universities have used referendums to force their students’ unions into or out of relationships with other societies, such as the Canadian Federation of Students. With a referendum in place, the university or government itself will then take action to assure that the will of the students, of you, the members, is upheld.

But running a full referendum is not without some costs, so to start a referendum, the policy requires that a student get a petition of a minimum number of members together that support the question being asked of all the members. If that can be done, Council then has a vote to accept the petition or deny it. If they accept it, they have to run the referendum. That means that all students will get a vote.

If they deny it, however, the policy said that they had to provide notice to the membership of why they denied the petition. With the proposed policy, that’s been removed. In fact, the new wording in the policy is that Council can choose to just completely ignore the petition, or even put forward an alternative motion instead. Gone is the requirement that any explanation ever be provided as to why the motion wasn’t accepted. With the proposed policy, Council can take any petition for any referendum they don’t like and simply toss it away, never informing members of anything at all. If you don’t think that’s right, then you need to attend the AGM to prevent this change.

Also, when they run the referendum, the policy used to say that advertising the referendum was to include at least one mail-out to all AUSU members. That is also gone. Instead, they have to send one mass-email to all AUSU members. You should consider, which are you more likely to pay attention to, another email in your email box, or a physical piece of mail landing in your post box? Not that the mass email isn’t a good idea, but why not require both? Remember, it is only through a referendum that AUSU can do things such as change the fees you need to pay, and, as the ones who do pay, you deserve every opportunity to know when and how to vote on those kind of issues.

So, if you think any of this is important stuff, then you need to immediately contact ausu@ausu.org and ask to attend the AGM this year. Then, on May 27th, you need to show up. Call in, listen to council, listen to your fellow students, and vote for the changes that you want to see.

Enjoy the read!