Video updates, judicious use of committees, online communication should be on the agenda
You might think efficiency at Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) board meetings is a pretty boring topic—but you’d be wrong. As it turns out, students have a vested interest in making sure the SFUO stays organized in its meetings.
Disorganization has led past student executives to mismanage our health plan budget, which sent them into a financial tailspin last year. This led to services and clubs losing funding in 2016–17, leaving students even worse off.
Many students think the SFUO has serious problems that need fixing. Well, there’s only one way for students to do that: change the federation’s constitution. Especially now that General Assemblies have no power, there is literally only one recourse for change—the SFUO’s Board of Administration (BOA), where policy decisions are made.
And as it happens, the BOA is in dire need of a kick in the ass. Even with meetings running in excess of six hours the board routinely has to push motions to future meetings, feeding an ever-growing backlog that prevents motions from ever reaching the floor. Even SFUO president Roméo Ahimakin has said at several meetings that the board needs to be more efficient.
So, what can they do about it?
As it stands, each meeting features updates and reports from the SFUO executives. And a recent motion would require other faculty directors to give updates as well. While this function is important, it takes a real chunk of time away from the meetings—so why not just do it beforehand?
If faculty directors record video updates in advance, they don’t have to be presented at the meetings, and still keep in touch with their constituents. This method also makes it easier for students to see and share what’s going on in their faculties. As for logistics, the SFUO actually has a video company at its disposal, so it’s certainly possible.
There are lots of good reasons to send a motion to a given committee, and the board shouldn’t have to decide on a motion without studying its implications. But as it stands, motions are sent to committees, like the constitutional committee or the policy and bylaws committee, without a clear deadline to return them to the board.
Simply setting a clear, public deadline for the motion’s return will ensure the board doesn’t overload it with motions before the next meeting. This will mean motions can be passed at a set pace.
Believe it or not, some motions pass in the BOA without any debate at all. Wouldn’t it be easier to flag these motions beforehand? Currently, the board has to go through an entire procedure with debates and motivations just to get through a motion that’s already going to pass without dissent.
Giving BOA members the tools to show online motions that everyone agrees on before the meeting can really speed up the voting procedure, and it will allow the board to design the meeting’s agenda in the most efficient way possible.
When it comes to SFUO board meetings, a renewed focus on efficiency is a necessity, not a luxury. Because as it turns out, this boring bottleneck is the sole pipeline for improving the SFUO—so let’s make sure it’s not full of garbage.