DSU Annual General Meeting overview
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
The Douglas College Student Union (DSU) Annual General Meeting took place on February 2. Students were enticed to come out to vote on new bylaws and amendments in exchange for prizes and pizza.
This year’s AGM was facilitated by Jenelle Davies, past Women’s Representative in the DSU, with the audit presented by Erik Allas.
The DSU Representative Committee started the meeting by presenting the Progress Report titled #ForwardTogether. The progress report was prepared to strengthen the operation of the DSU and create new opportunities for students, while eliminating weaknesses and threats that were previously dormant.
The report consisted of 10 core objectives.
The first objective was to improve DSU services. Projects in Objective One included providing students with healthier snack options in the DSU, adding more discounts for students who use ISIC (International Student Identity Card), and creating more awards for international students.
Objective Two was to expand campus life, which the DSU achieved by increasing hours for DSU volunteers, improving the quality of swag for their giveaways, and increasing the number of student events.
The third objective was to advocate for increased college services. Currently, the DSU is advocating for sound-proof music rooms, longer library hours, more counsellors, improved food services at the David Lam Campus, and increased availability of open educational resources.
The fourth objective was improving DSU presence at David Lam, and included contributing to an overall Douglas College Master Plan, hiring a Coquitlam organizer, and pledging $750,000 towards expanding DSU services in Coquitlam.
The fifth objective was to improve membership outreach, which was achieved by increasing their social media presence, increasing the number of DSU app users by 25 per cent, and providing monthly email updates.
Objective Six involved engaging DSU members in campaigns. The Weeks of Action during the Fall semester and open textbook campaign fell under this objective, and the DSU hopes to continue to work towards this objective with campaigns surrounding the upcoming provincial election.
The seventh objective was to improve organization of DSU clubs by adding three spaces for clubs to book, including the club directory on the DSU app, and creating a DSU clubs’ council.
Reviewing the DSU’s membership in CFS (Canadian Federation of Students) was the eighth objective, especially since the CFS has fallen under scrutiny after failing to be transparent with financial statements and concealing a secret bank account for two and a half years. The DSU is contributing to finding an alternative means for national student representation and increasing their role in the BCFS (BC Federation of Students) since the federation separated its affairs from the CFS.
Improving governance was the ninth objective. This was achieved by updating 13 policies, making 7 bylaw amendments, and transitioning to adhere by the BC Societies Act.
The final objective of #ForwardTogether was to stabilize students’ union finances by creating better investments of students’ money and by being more transparent with said investments.
The presentation of the progress report was interrupted part-way through once enough students were in attendance to create quorum. It was at this time that the representative committee proceeded through proposed bylaw amendments. All bylaws were either unanimously or overwhelmingly passed.
The first three amendments fell into simple housekeeping procedures. The first motion was to change language within the bylaws, particularly regarding the new Societies Act that the DSU had signed on to. Under the Societies Act, the DSU has two years to transition to the new rules, which will improve access to information and create explicit rules regarding board conflicts and liabilities.
The second bylaw amendment changed some money involved in DSU fees. There will be no increase to student fees, but rather how the fees are utilized. For example, the health and dental fees appear to be in excess, and building, clubs, and performing arts will be adjusted to be used as needed. Surpluses from the performing arts and clubs funds will be transferred into DSU general revenue.
The third amendment was in regards to the DSU relationship with both the CFS and the BCFS. From now on, the BCFS will be officially regard to as “The Federation” while the CFS will retain its current title.
Motion four was to change the name of the Representative Committee. The decision was made to change the name in order for the DSU to adopt a name more similar to that of other student unions. From this point forward, the representative committee will be referred to as the DSU Board of Directors.
Motion five added to the previous motion, and effectively changed the titles of the board members (previously representatives). Coordinators will now be known as directors. For example, instead of External Relations Coordinator, the title will now be Director of External Relations. Such will apply to the representatives of finance, college relations, campus life, and the Coquitlam campus. Members at Large will now also be referred to as Directors at Large. In addition to the name changes, the directors were also given more specific job descriptions, in order to create a clearer idea of duties and increased accountability to students.
The sixth amendment consolidated roles, giving more duties to the Staff Relations Officer, the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson, and the Federation Executive Representative.
The seventh and final amendment changed the rules on who could be a signatory for contracts and financial transactions. Previously, any elected representative in the DSU held signing authority, which created potential opportunities for power to be abused. Under the new bylaw, signing authority will be limited at two to four signatories. A new policy will also be put into place to allow the board of directors to assign and remove signatories. Signatories will be required to take an oath of office.
The annual report and audited financial statements were briefly discussed, with documents left for students to browse through at their leisure.
The final part of the AGM involved opening the floor to student questions. Few questions were asked, with students mainly asking questions about improving available information regarding the dental plan, fees, Wifi, and the U-Pass.
Perhaps the most notable question posed to the DSU was in regard to its membership in CFS. A student asked if the DSU was continuing to pay fees to the CFS despite its lack of transparency.
To that, Allas explained that the DSU was technically required to collect fees for the CFS. However, he elaborated that the DSU would not be sending said funds to the CFS until it opened its financial statements and further explained the purpose of the secret bank account.