The Upcoming March 26 GSA General Assembly

The upcoming Graduate Student Association’s general assembly on March 26 brings to mind the awful assembly on October 23, 2014. I was interested in bringing matters regarding GSA’s accreditation to the notice of members at that assembly, but was disappointed with what happened.

Most points at that assembly focused on the problems but not their root cause. A situation where people go to a GA simply to vote for their friends and leave should be a thing of great concern. The refusal of one candidate to accept a result, which had a close margin, sent the assembly into a state of chaos. The repeated calls for another vote by secret ballot should have been ruled out of order because the assembly earlier voted not to have a secret ballot. The election for VP Academic and Advocacy was subsequently tabled to the next GA.

GSA president Houda Madnoune and other executives, VP External Mohammad Jawad Khan and VP Internal Rohit Patil, went against the association’s bylaws and appointed Trevor Smith as staff, to fulfill the functions of the VP Academic and Advocacy position. The council of directors censured them in their July 9, 2014 meeting and allowed Trevor’s contract to be held until the first GA in the fall. It is surprising to note that Trevor’s pay was increased retroactively from June 1, 2014 at the January 19, 2015 council meeting.

The GA seems to have been overruled because elections are off the agenda for the next GA. Two earlier attempts to hold GAs were unsuccessful. There is, however, a proposal for a bylaw change regarding elections at GAs on the agenda. This change calls for elections at GAs to be by secret ballot, unless unanimously adopted otherwise.

It is interesting to see an anti-austerity motion and a motion to ratify the council of director’s call for an increase in member’s dues on the same agenda. The upcoming GSA elections would have been an opportunity to put this question to test in a referendum rather than gather a few people to vote for it. This question was previously put to a referendum disguised as a fee levy for advocacy services.

More detailed financial statements should be made available to members to justify why this increase is required. The 2014-2015 budget that was approved at the January 19 council meeting should have been updated to show revenues which reflect the actual student numbers.

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