Words fly as conflicts arise over residence issues and student apathy
In a major improvement from last year, the LUSU Annual General Meeting (AGM), which took place last Thursday at the ATAC fifth-floor boardroom, managed to make quorum on its first attempt. The AGM, chaired by Slim Babay, tackled issues as grads students’ relationship with LUSU, election problems, and conflicts between residence and the Student Union.
When it appeared that not enough students would turn out to the meeting to meet the required 50 members to make quorum, President-elect Dave Grad and his running mate, VP Student Issues-elect Trevor Cava, put campaign promises into practice and searched the halls for any student they could find to bring to the meeting. The meeting included five members from the Orillia Campus, who participated via teleconference.
Noticeably absent from the meeting was newly elected VP Finance, Ian Dasti, whose status as a student was again challenged by CILU Radio rep, Josh Kolic. Dasti is away for four weeks, fulfilling a four-week contract with a junior exploration company near McFaulds Lake. He is slated to return to Thunder Bay in time to fulfill the obligatory 40-hour training session for incoming LUSU executives, though his contributions to the upcoming Student Union budget will be limited to either online or telephone communications.
Former LUSU President, Richard Longtin was on hand to provide a report on his work during his shortened term, as well as to answer any questions students had. He was met with relative hostility from a few attendees, though this was brief and did little to distract from the meeting,
Members from the Residence Council, LU Radio, the Graduate Students Association, the Mature Student Association, and several Board of Directors members, and others were also on hand to represent their respective groups.
Current VP Student Issues, Anna Wease, the only student currently sitting on the LU Presidential Search Committee, sought input from students regarding criteria for choosing the new president. Attendees asked for more engagement with students from the incoming president, and suggested that the future Lakehead President be concerned with campus sustainability, be focused on academics rather than business, be available to the Orillia campus, and have an interest in reversing Dr. Gilbert’s policy on wireless.
Louise Haukeness, a volunteer vote counter from last week’s ten hour LUSU elections ballot count stated that she felt the elections process was complicated by disruptions and interference from LUSU executive candidates who were in the room during the vote counting process.
Following her complaint, a motion was brought forward to disallow candidates from being present in the room during the vote counting process. While the motion was amended to allow Argus representatives to be present during the tabulation, the motion was deferred to the Constitutional Development and Review Committee to look into.
A motion was also brought to the same committee to look into having only a single LUSU member responsible for putting up posters on Student Union poster boards as a means of preventing group posters from being plastered over.
CUPE president and BOD member, Will Dechert, motioned to forward a referendum question to graduate students on whether they think LUSU ought to hire a graduate student commissioner to occupy a similar position to the full-time sustainability commissioner. The referendum question would have the $35 grad fee paid by Thunder Bay graduate students go to the commissioner so that grad student issues are better represented on Board. The motion carried, with the referendum taking place in April.
As issues regarding VP Finance-elect Ian Dasti’s status as students were rehashed, the meeting lost quorum and went into recess. The meeting continued informally until enough students were wooed with pizza to meet quorum.
Following the recess, Grad and Cava criticised LUSU’s efforts to inform students about the AGM. Board members defended the process, stating that they conformed to the constitution, which required two weeks of advertised notice in the Argus as well as posters and emails. Grad and Cava stated that they thought Board ought to physically talk to students and make sure they are informed regarding meetings.
Granville rebutted their criticism, saying, “I’m sure next year’s executive will do a much better job than we did.”
Passionate words flew as residence representative, Jaqueline Clarke, challenged Matt Granville on relations between LUSU and Residence Council. While Granvillie accused Rez Council of being “hostile” toward LUSU, Wease took a more diplomatic approach by stating that these relations were a two way street and that both parties would have to meet in the middle in order to improve. As the comments broke down into argument, the topic was changed to allow the meeting to move on.
“I think there is always a future for LUSU and Rez Counsel,” said Residence Programmer Eric Culkin, following the meeting. Culkin explained that the next steps would depend on how the new executive handles issues between Residence Counsel and LUSU but would not comment on whether or not he felt next year’s executive would facilitate better than the current exec.
Grad expressed hope that the relationship he has built with Residence through his position as Orientation Facilitator will carry over and hopefully “build a mutual relationship” between the Student Union and Residence Life.
The three-hour meeting concluded quickly once enough students had been wrangled up to restore quorum and to approved the executive reports.