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Changes to protocol implemented to smooth GA process: Roy

Photo: Remi Yuan

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) will host its second general assembly (GA) on March 24, with six motions to be debated at the Shaw Centre. The cost of room rental, translating services, and technical equipment for the GA adds up to almost $5,000.

Students are set to debate the creation of a history committee, democratic reform, fiscal accountability, opposition to the privatization of education, support of designating Ottawa officially bilingual, and electoral reform.

Tony Bui, a third-year political science and philosophy student, submitted the electoral reform motion that seeks to ban slates from future elections, to have spoiled ballots counted, and disclosed alongside the official results, and “to make SFUO elections fairer overall.”

“I noticed how much negativity and vitriol existed with our university during election period,” said Bui.

“It became apparent to me that our elections weren’t so much about ways to improve our university … but rather it was becoming a battle of ideology and between parties that were trying to get in their own people.”

A similar democratic reform motion calls that GA motions need to get 10 signatures in support, as opposed to 100.

One student submitted a motion calling for the creation of a committee of volunteers that will chronicle the history of the SFUO.

The motion for fiscal accountability asks that any increase in SFUO fees be approved by a vote with 25 per cent of students in support.

One motion asks the student federation to oppose the privatization of education, while another calls for the SFUO to support the campaign to officially designate Ottawa a bilingual city.

Meanwhile, some students are disappointed that their additional motions didn’t make the cut.

Some proposals left off the agenda 

Hanna Fazal, vice-president social of the Students’ Association of the Faculty of Arts, submitted a motion to impeach current vice-president social Ikram Hamoud.

One of the main organizers of the impeachment campaign, Fazal said she’s collected approximately 700 signatures since mid-December.

“There’s still a month of work term for (Hamoud),” Fazal said in an email to the Fulcrum. “She shouldn’t get paid considering we still haven’t seen much work being done.”

While GA motions require only 100 student signatures to be valid, an impeachment motion requires signatures from 5 per cent of the student population, which is 1,500 students, according to the SFUO constitution. Fazal said she did not know, and wasn’t informed that she needed to get that many signatures.

A motion calling for a student strike was also left off the agenda, despite being previously motioned at the last general assembly in November, and then tabled to this month’s GA by the Board of Administration (BOA).

The last general assembly failed to meet quorum and all the motions were tabled to the following BOA meeting. They were all passed, except for the student strike motion, which was tabled by SFUO president Anne-Marie Roy.

Roy said afterward that she realized the board doesn’t actually have the authority to table motions to the next GA, and that she informed the Revolutionary Student Movement (RSM) that they would need to resubmit. However, a spokesperson for the RSM said they weren’t told.

“No, we did not know that and were never informed,” said Alex Lépine, RSM chairperson, who said they assumed the motion would carry over after requesting for it to not be discussed at the BOA meeting.

Changes to GA protocol

Roy said there are going to be several changes to this GA that will make it run smoother.

The last GA gave way to disputes between the chair and students over rules of order.

“This time the chair for the general assembly is going to be up on a stage so it’s going to be easier for her to see the entire room and intervene,” said Roy.

She added that there will also be clearer guidelines and communication about whether quorum is reached.

The SFUO wasn’t able to get academic amnesty for the GA—meaning students wouldn’t be penalized for missing class to attend the GA—like they had hoped for, said Roy. She said she’s negotiating with the management board for the University Centre and plans to use the Alumni Auditorium as leverage to acquire academic amnesty and to secure the Marion auditorium for next year’s general assemblies.

Roy also responded to an article by La Rotonde that suggested the GAs could be held in a gym on campus.

“I did actually check in with Sports Services for the gym, and I was told I needed to make a reservation at least 18 months ahead of time,” she said.

She also said with the time it takes to set up, a general assembly held in a gym wouldn’t begin before 9 p.m., and they would have to leave by 11 p.m.

The SFUO’s general assembly will be held on March 24 at 5 p.m. at the Shaw Centre.