Vote on critical staffing resolution on hold
By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor
A special meeting of the Douglas Students’ Union (DSU) membership, which convened on October 17 to deliberate and approve an increase in work hours and compensation for DSU constituency liaisons, has been put on hold as the quorum was not met.
The resolution, which proposed an amendment to the DSU’s administrative policy, would have seen constituency liaisons (Women, Aboriginal, Pride, and Disabilities liaisons) receive a bump in pay and a mandate to work more hours in a week.
The changes to the DSU administrative policy were put forward as due to a “significant increase” in the DSU’s operations, events, and committee work. Under current policy, constituency liaisons are mandated to work five hours per week—less than half as much as members-at-large. The amendment, if passed, would mandate constituency liaisons to work 12.5 hours per week, the amount currently mandated for members-at-large. The change in work hours would also result in an increase in pay, given that there has been a discrepancy in how much constituency liaisons earn compared to members-at-large.
DSU Internal Relations Coordinator Jesse Stamberg indicated that while there was no historical record to explain why constituency liaisons work less than members-at-large, he explained that the DSU underwent significant changes in the past to its governance structure.
“At one point, many years ago, the Representative Committee structure changed from a top-down structure with a president to the more egalitarian structure we have today,” said Stamberg. “We have no history on why the decision was made to pay members-at-large more than constituency liaisons.”
Stamberg stressed that it was important for this resolution to pass, even if it was a simple issue of DSU governance.
“Constituency liaisons are obligated to bring forward the needs, concerns, and issues of their constituency as well as facilitating the events and campaigns relevant to their constituency. This can be quite a workload. Therefore it is high time that the inequity in remuneration be corrected,” said Stamberg.
DSU representatives were adamant that the costs of this amendment are already budgeted for and will not result in a discussion about raising student fees.
“Let me reassure students that their fees will not be increased. Other than the annual CPI increase (Consumer Price Index) tied to the student fees, the fees can only increase by a referendum of the membership. The Representative Committee has not even contemplated such a referendum,” said Stamberg.
The inability to meet quorum means that the resolution could not come to a vote. Despite efforts to draw students to the meeting with hot chocolate, pumpkin pie, and a draw for Vancouver Canucks tickets, DSU officials said that it was difficult to reach the quorum because of students’ busy classroom schedules. At one point, the quorum was almost reached, but students started filing out of the meeting around 1 p.m. as their classes were set to start.
DSU officials told the Other Press that a number of options to hold the meeting could be contemplated, including trying to hold another special meeting or waiting for the DSU Annual General Meeting which usually takes place in February.
“This is a budget priority to ensure we have the human resources to facilitate all the committees, services, and events that the DSU is involved in and projects we are committed to,” said Stamberg.
More information on the proposed administrative policy amendment could be found on the DSU’s Special General Meeting event on Facebook at www.facebook.com/events/519272861499653/