Feds board meetings reopened

After a marathon six-hour meeting, Feds’ Board of Directors (BoD) voted in favour of a motion, presented by director Doug Turner, to officially reopen BoD meetings to any member of the Federation of Students.

The meeting took place on the evening of Dec. 16, three days before the conclusion of exams. Eight directors voted in favour of the motion, while two abstained.

Turner said the motion addresses the issues of accountability and transparency.

“This [motion] gives students the opportunity to come to meetings and find the information first hand rather than relying on minutes and agendas, which are often late or not present at all.

“It is also an issue of making board members accountable to students, because currently there is no way for students to hold them accountable,” Turner said.

“How can students be expected to elect board members at the general meetings when they have no idea what they may have done in the previous year (if they are incumbents) or to hold them accountable for what they do in the following year,” Turner explained.

Board chair Chris Lolas, who voted in favour of the motion, said he was not shocked by the outcome of the vote.

“A few months ago, I would have been very surprised by this outcome. But as I said, we’ve been discussing this for a while now,” Lolas said.

Lolas is widely speculated to be running for president in the upcoming Feds’ elections, but said his decision was based on the best interest of students and Feds.

“I can’t confirm that I’m running for president, but if I were: Not at all. I take my role as director extremely seriously, and I have a legal duty to do what I think is best for students and for Feds,” Lolas explained.

However, the timing of the motion came as a surprise to some, including Danielle Burt, Feds’ president, and Ben Balfour, Feds’ VPOF, considering the issue failed to mobilize students and was voted down in last October’s annual general meeting (AGM).

“I didn’t agree with the precedent it set that it was just voted down at an AGM, and then for the president to say ‘I’m in favour of something we just voted down that I also chaired.’ It just seemed like a weird precedent not only for the board to set, but for me to set. That’s why I chose to abstain,” Burt explained.

Balfour, who said the motion “was a surprise when it first came up,” also cited the precedent it would set as the reason he chose to abstain.

“I don’t necessarily disagree with what the motion is trying to accomplish; I 100 per cent agree that it’s important for us to be accountable and transparent,” Balfour said. “It’s weird that students came to a general meeting, voted, and then board, a much smaller and closed body, made a decision the opposite way.”

Turner, however, believes the motion that passed is different from the one presented at the AGM.

“The motion itself is different from the GM motion,” Turner said. “The GM motion was students tasking BoD to do it, but wasn’t changing any procedures or bylaws.

“This motion is actually changing the procedures.”

Both Burt and Balfour, the two directors who have vocally opposed open board meetings in the past, said they don’t know and didn’t want to speculate why other directors didn’t make them aware of the motion before it was placed on the agenda.

“I can’t really speak to that too much, just because I’m not sure what Doug or Rebecca [Little] were thinking before,” Burt said. “Doug and I talked after, and in no way was he trying to be malicious towards me personally, nor I to him in discussion, so I think we’re still all good. There were no hard feelings to bringing it forward and keeping it behind anybody’s back.”

When asked whether or not the motion and the outcome of the vote were politically motivated, considering a looming Feds’ election, Burt said, “I hope not. I always hope people put stuff forward at these very important bodies for the best interest of the organization and following the best interest of students.”

Balfour, when asked the same question said, “No comment.”

According to several accounts, the nature of debate and discussion on this polarizing issue was respectful.

“Overall the tone was very respectful of everybody’s opinion,” director Amy Zhou said. “Everyone was looking at it from every angle. Every single person on that board ultimately wants what’s best for the corporation.”

Members can attend the first open BoD meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 13. The chair must approve any non-members who wish to attend.


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