DC/UOIT Student Association Annual General Meeting voting concerns

Last year's SA president Ryan LePage shared his thoughts on this year's AGM after the event. Photo by Andrew Brennan.
Last year’s SA president Ryan LePage shared his thoughts on this year’s AGM after the event. Photo by Andrew Brennan.

One word defined the 2016 DC-UOIT Student Association’s (SA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) – proxy.

Jonathan Anderson, a third-year electrical engineering student at UOIT, refers to the AGM as a proxy war.

“[It was] based on individual special interests that were able to stifle and remove any actual discussion on several issues,” Anderson says. “It was a borderline mob.”

Anderson believes limiting the amount of proxy votes to five or less would be beneficial to the democratic process. He suggests an online feature be added to the SA website allowing absent students to participate and vote on AGM issues.

The AGM was held at 12:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25. Anderson believes this online feature would help combat students missing the event because of class or other studies.

In regards to the issues discussed, Anderson says he felt the AGM represented the positions of the Student Association and contrary positions were silenced.

The most widely debated issue on the agenda was the motion to classify two more SA jobs as full-time employment positions. The motion was decided in a close vote, with 194 students in favour, 161 opposed it.

The positions of VP of downtown campus and VP of Whitby-Pickering campus will now join the president, VP of college affairs, VP of university affairs and the VP of equity as full-time employees. All of those positions will earn an annual salary of $33,000 and be entitled to two weeks of vacation time.

Wages for executive members will now account for approximately $198,000 of the SA budget, compared to $132,588 in 2015.

However, as former SA president Ryan LePage says, the voting process wasn’t so simple.

He also says the amount of proxy votes per student is a problem. Students were given the ability to obtain signatures from up to ten other students and represent them in voting. That means one student could account for eleven votes with the usage of proxy.

“As evidence by the first vote, where the whole room physically voted one way but the proxies voted another and the proxies won,” LePage says.

LePage says fellow students even asked him what the point was in attending the AGM if the proxy voters would outnumber those in attendance.

There are people who see a benefit in a proxy vote, including the vice-president of college affairs, Mike Guerard.

“I think that’s a great way for students to get involved if they can’t make the AGM,” Guerard says.

However, he believes SA executive and board members should not be able to use proxy votes.

“We’re the ones putting forward a lot of the motions. I think it’s unfair to go out and get votes and say ‘I’m voting for this and I have ten votes.’ If you can’t make the merit of your argument, you shouldn’t be allowed to bring extra votes.”

The AGM lasted almost four hours before too many students left and the ability to hold quorum was lost. Seven motions were left on the table, including the highly debated issue of a minimum GPA requirement for any student wishing to run for an SA position.

The motion called for students running for SA positions to hold a minimum GPA of 2.7 There were approximately 20 students lined up to speak before Ezra Graham, the SA’s board director and chair of the School of Media, Art & Design, was forced to announce students could no longer vote on any further issues.