Before you read this, you need to read Barb Lehtiniemi’s coverage of the AGM, otherwise this will make absolutely no sense. So go ahead. I’ll wait.
So, as you read, in this AGM, students attempted to create and pass a couple of motions that were binding upon AUSU Council. However, they were informed that, according to the Post-Secondary Learning Act of Alberta, no motion that would bind AUSU Council could be considered in order, since section 95 of the Alberta Post-Secondary Learning Act (PSLA) reads, in part:
95 (1) The business and affairs of a student organization of a
public post-secondary institution must be managed by a council,
the members of which are
(a) to be elected by and from the members of the student
organization as provided in the bylaws made by the council
under subsection (2)
It was explained that since the PSLA says that students union must be managed by a council of elected members, the law granted no authority for the students to make any motions that were binding on AUSU Council, they could only make recommendations for AUSU Council, which could then choose to follow them or not.
This interpretation of the PSLA was provided by Mr. Titus Gregory, a self-employed parliamentarian of eight years who has served as the external chair of several student unions and grad-student associations. When contacted, Mr. Gregory confirmed that he has no formal credential or accreditation, although he is a former member of the National Association of Parliamentarians. Mr. Gregory also re-iterated that, as he suggested to AUSU President Shawna Wasylyshyn, students may want to seek the advice of a lawyer to sort these issues out.
Personally, I think That’s extremely good advice, since, if Mr. Gregory’s interpretation of Alberta Law is correct, it essentially means that a student council could pass an elections policy saying they hold an election whenever they feel like it, and a referendums and plebiscite policy similar to that of AUSUs, which allows AUSU Council to void any petition or plebiscite they do not approve of, and not only would this be completely legal, but such a council would then be protected by law from any attempt by the students to control their own student union fees. And this doesn’t just apply to AUSU, but any students’ association in Alberta. So even if AU is not your primary institution, this is something that could affect you in a very bad way if left unchallenged. This is my larger concern.
Students might also consider contacting the new Advanced Education Minster of Alberta, and if you don’t know who that is, You’re in luck, as Bethany Tynes has given us an article of the recent and historic swearing in of a new government of Alberta, as well as a photo feature of the ceremony, where you can also see past AUSU President, Debbie Jabbour.
That, an interview with Dr. Vive Kumar, an article about how the conspiracy theorists may just be right, plus a host of other advice, reviews, and informative articles means that this issue of The Voice Magazine should have something for everyone.
Enjoy the read!