An opposition movement is growing as Durham College Students Inc. (DCSI) prepares to host its Annual General Meeting (AGM) Nov. 16.
Three executive members who were fired from their jobs as president and vice-presidents in June, have started a campaign against proposed DCSI bylaw changes which will be presented at the AGM they claim limit the rights of students.
The previous president, Jaylan Hayles, and vice-presidents, Geoffrey Olara and Toosaa Bush, were fired at a June 28 DCSI board meeting. The trio were not at the meeting.
While the president and VPs did not have voting rights at board meetings, they were elected as representatives of the students. They have not been replaced. DCSI’s general manager, Naqi Hyder, later stepped down. The new bylaw proposal was completed after the firings.
The remaining DCSI board members have put together a 41-page set of new bylaws for student approval at the AGM. DCSI’s financial statements will also be reviewed.
Hayles, Olara and Bush have started #NotTodayDCSI as a way to oppose the proposed changes. But they say they are not responsible for posters found around Oshawa, including the campus, trying to rally students to oppose the bylaw changes.
According to Hayles, “we started the hashtag, and when we woke up there were posters made.” These posters use memes to rail against DCSI proposed amendments. They have appeared around campus, though they were quickly removed by security.
The campaign has collected a couple dozen likes and shares on Facebook.
However, the impact of the new bylaws could be much larger.
The document contains 128 bylaws spread among 21 categories. It begins by outlining membership and responsibilities. According to the proposal, members must be full-time students enrolled in Durham College. Members are sorted into nine categories, each representing a school at Durham.
The next section outlines the fees for which students are responsible. If the proposed bylaws are adopted at the Nov. 16 meeting, any changes in fees must be approved by a referendum of the students.
Section 5 discusses members’ meetings. There will be two types of meetings; the AGM and Special Meetings. Members can move and second motions at any of these meetings. Members must be present at the meeting to vote. DCSI has eliminated proxy voting, a common feature under the previous Student Association.
All meetings must be called by the Chairperson of the Board. Currently this office is held by Charles Wilson, a governance consultant with no other affiliation with Durham College. Wilson doubles as DCSI’s interim general manager.
Under the proposed changes, students will be able to call meetings on their own, but will need a signed petition from ten per cent of members. (For example, under DC’s current enrolment, 1,200 students would need to sign a petition to call a meeting.) In order to raise an issue at a meeting students need the support of five per cent of the student body, in this case 600 people. However, the board can pass resolutions with 120 voting members present.
If the meeting is open for voting online, only the online vote will count. The board decides when this happens.
Next, the bylaws define the board and its composition. Each school i.e. Media, Art and Design, is meant to elect a board representative. There are nine members total. According to former president Hayles, only three of the current board members were elected, the remainder were hired.
According to the proposed bylaw changes, the DCSI budget will be presented by the vice-president (VP) of internal affairs at the AGM. However, in the absence of a VP at the moment, it is unclear who will present the budget at the upcoming AGM. Members are not able to approve the budget, which is funded by their student fees.
As it stands, there is nearly $5 million in the DCSI coffers. More than half of the budget goes to the health plan, $60,000 is allocated to a legal defence fund and $165,000 is budgeted for events, but no events have been announced. Nearly $970,000 will go to DCSI salaries.
According to Trudell, the AGM begins at 10 a.m. but students must arrive at 9:30 a.m. and bring their student ID cards to register. Trudell says the meeting is being held on the second floor of the Student Centre in the building’s board room.