Council Connection – November 8, 2016 Meeting

The November 8th council meeting, which coincided with the night of the American election, lasted just under two hours and focused mostly on resolving issues related to the workload of the AUSU Executive. The meeting was plagued by technical difficulties from the beginning, resulting in some councillors participating solely through the teleconference system’s chat window.

The meeting started with some discussion about last minute changes to the agenda. The executive decided to postpone reviewing the Joint Council/Voice Action Plan Committee report until a later date (to be determined), after councillors have had more time to review the committee’s recommendations and receive clarification on a few items.

After approving the meeting agenda and the October 13th meeting minutes, councillors first voted on a standard resolution required by Canadian Western Trust to change signatories on AUSU’s investment accounts. The motion passed unanimously.

The next item on the agenda was to approve a scaled-back 2016/2017 goals list. It was suggested that the previous goals list was overly ambitious given the limited time that the AUSU executive had available to commit to new goals and as a result, these seven goals would be removed:
– Finalizing, approving, and utilizing an AUSU Advocacy Document that outlines advocacy topics for AUSU at the federal, provincial, and institutional level;
– Observing provincial advocacy groups such as the Alberta Students’ Executive Council and the Council of Alberta University Students;
– Participating on the CASA Board of Directors as possible;
– Developing a comprehensive communications plan addressing all stakeholders for AUSU;
– Finding out what members need to discuss among themselves and what council needs to allow for robust members consultation;
– Reviewing and developing processes to support AUSU staff success and satisfaction; and
– Determining what amounts AUSU should have designated as reserve funds and the value of that designation.

President Shawna Wasylyshyn also noted, with obvious frustration, that only one councillor had responded to requests for input in revising the goals list and that Executive had been forced to decide on the goals without input from the rest of council. She questioned if councillors were receiving her emails or if there was some other reason for the lack of response..

After a further call for feedback on the amendments, Councillor Scott Jacobsen responded he was disappointed that the goal of observing provincial advocacy groups (i.e. Alberta Students’ Executive Council and the Council of Alberta University Students) would be removed from AUSU goals for the next year. New Councillor Robin Bleich commented she did not feel informed enough on what was expected of her, although she expressed her willingness to learn. However, no other councillors participated in this discussion. Perhaps they were all watching the results come in from the US election (I admit, I was checking them every five minutes!) but the lack of participation by councillors on such an important item to AUSU members was concerning.

When called to vote on the revised goals, VP Finance Kim Newsome voted “nay” to protest the policy being changed due to the lack of participation of council. All other councillors voted in favour of the revised list. This vote meant that council’s goals for the next year will be significantly reduced. Several goals identified by AU students in the AUSU 2016 Services Survey and that were key outcomes from Council’s in-person retreat to Edmonton this past August were removed, including researching platforms for membership discussion and creating an AUSU advocacy document.

Next, several proposed policy changes were up for discussion, all with the intent of making the AUSU President an “ex-officio, non-voting” member of all AUSU committees. The President is currently required to be an “active, voting” member of every AUSU committee, a commitment that occupies a great deal of the President’s time. This change would have the effect of allowing the President to miss meetings without penalization and without impacting quorum. This topic did generate much discussion, and council reached a consensus that the President should not be required to be a member of every AUSU committee. Councillor Andrew Gray argued the President could still be a member of any committee if they so choose, but this change would allow other councillors or AUSU members to step up and be more involved in committee leadership. Everyone agreed, and the necessary changes were made in the affected policies.

The Executive Councillors, committee chairs and staff then presented their monthly reports. Items of interest from this portion of the meeting were that the 2017 pocket calendars have been ordered, AU student emails are still a work-in-progress, and AUSU ended its fiscal year with a much smaller deficit than predicted.

The next council meeting is scheduled for December 13th at 5:30 MST.