The fall-term GA takes place on Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. Photo: Marta Kierkus.
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Proposed motions discuss online voting, electoral reform

Student executives are gearing up for this year’s fall-term General Assembly (GA), which is set to take place on Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Marion Auditorium.

In an email to the Fulcrum, Francesco Caruso, vice-president of services and communications for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), discussed his hopes for the upcoming GA.

“We hope to make SFUO history this year and reach quorum, so that our student body may fully benefit from the direct democracy that it passed by referendum.”

Caruso also shared his views on why students should attend.

“Student attendance at this event is incredibly important … they will directly have an impact on student life on campus. As members of the SFUO, we are all responsible to make sure that our best interests and our voices are shared and heard, and the General Assembly is the ideal place for such exchange.”

There are nine motions to be approved at the GA, which are summarized below:

  • Motion for a CFS review committee: This motion calls for the development of an ad-hoc committee on the Board of Administration (BOA), which would evaluate the SFUO’s involvement with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), including the CFS’ influence on the SFUO and the costs associated with CFS campaigns and services, among other tasks.
  • Motion for a declaration of student rights: Currently, the SFUO constitution does not stipulate the rights possessed by students. This motion calls on the SFUO to explicitly declare students’ rights and privileges in the constitution, which include forming clubs and societies, attending all BOA meetings, accessing services and resources of the federation, and speaking freely on the federation and matters pertaining to it.
  • Motion for a referendum on mandatory voting: This motion states that the SFUO should implement mandatory voting for elections with a levy of $60, which can be refunded upon voting in SFUO elections.
  • Motion for SFUO elections reform: According to the motion, under the current first-past-the-post voting system, it is possible for a candidate to a win a seat with only a minority vote. This motion states that the voting system should be changed to the Wright System of the single transferable vote electoral system.
  • Motion for the creation of a VP student affairs: Currently, the management of clubs falls under the mandate of the vice-president of equity, while services are the responsibility of the vice-president of services and communications. This motion calls for the creation of a vice-president of student affairs, who would be explicitly responsible for overseeing the functioning of clubs and services.
  • Motion for the creation of a student court: This motion calls for the implementation of a student court composed of five arbitrators and two alternate arbitrators, a chief arbitrator, appointed by a Student Court Selection Committee of five federated body presidents. This court would oversee all judicial concerns within the student federation and federated bodies.
  • Motion for online voting in the general elections: This motion calls for the implementation of online voting for SFUO elections, beginning in the 2017–18 academic year.

These first seven motions were submitted by BOA member Nicholas Robinson and fourth-year U of O history student Justin Patrick. The following two motions were submitted by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute, and the University of Ottawa New Democratic Party (UONDP), respectively.

  • Motion for a statement condemning Turkish political purges: This motion requests that the SFUO issue a statement in solidarity with Hizmet, “a peaceful, non-partisan, non-governmental civil society movement dedicated to the advancement of human values and social cohesion through interfaith dialogue, education and the alleviation of poverty,” which, according to the motion, has been targeted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan through purges.
  • Motion to support a living wage: This motion states that minimum wage in Ontario is 16 per cent below the poverty line and that many SFUO employees “are not being paid a living wage.” It therefore calls on the SFUO to adopt a $15 minimum wage for all employees in the federation effective May 1, 2017, and to officially endorse the Fight for $15 and Fairness campaign.

At the Nov. 6 BOA meeting, it was promised that these motions would be available on the SFUO website on Nov. 7. As of the date of this publication, the motions have not yet been made public.

In terms of promotion for the GA, a number of students have taken to social media to voice their reasons for attending. Through Facebook posts these students are nominating ten friends to attend the GA and share their own reasons for doing so.

Caylie McKinlay, a fourth-year political science student at the U of O wrote in a Facebook post, “I am going in order to vouch for online voting—a successful system used to better accommodate students during the student union election process.”

SFUO vice-president of university affairs Vanessa Dorimain also participated in the nomination campaign, writing “Why am I going to the SFUO General Assemblies? Because when students mobilize together we can make real change!”

At the Nov. 6 BOA meeting, Caruso said the SFUO will be doing promotional work both in-person and online via social media for the GA, with a detailed social media plan laid out.

“We are going to engage with students in person, (and) on the ground.”

The upcoming GA takes place on Nov. 12 at 2 p.m. the Marion Auditorium. Student cards are required to attend. For more information, please visit the SFUO website.