The aftermath of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) has been unsettling, to say the least.
In the week since the AGM’s occurrence, there have been Facebook posts from both sides praising or condemning the AGM’s proceedings. Beyond the obvious need to better preserve safe spaces, discussion has focused on the failed board proposal, and it hasn’t been pretty.
Of course, student leaders have said that they look forward to “talking about the issues” or “engaging in consultation” for the next 12 months. But beyond these superficial statements, neither side has changed their fundamental arguments.
No one is calling for a truly comprehensive compromise. No one is calling for a completely new proposal, different from the two that were defeated by the Board of Directors and membership respectively. As of today, no one has ceded any ground.
Well, let me be the person to change the tone of this post-AGM discussion.
I have always believed that people can find common ground when it comes down to it. Having worked on the board this past year, I have seen that the body is not necessarily as split as people may think it is.
There are reasonable people who desperately want to find a solution that satisfies as many people as possible. And, as the AGM proved, no side in this debate can get the two-thirds majority it desperately needs to push its own vision alone, which leads to perhaps my most important point.
As a student’s union, we need to come together in this 12-month period and work on a compromise. Regardless of what the incumbents or the opposition wants, any potential solution will have to have both side’s acceptance, and that means neither side will get all of what it wants.
Equity and college representation will both have to be on the table, full stop. Getting to that point might not be what either side had in mind, but we will need a board proposal with both if it is ever to have a chance at passing.
I’d like to call on both sides to come back to the table and engage in a formal negotiation on a new board proposal, similar perhaps to the Student Societies Summit but without the tension created by an administrative presence.
Of course the make-up of such a negotiation would be up to the participants, but the idea is simple: find common ground, and do it soon. Don’t posture, don’t pontificate — just work for the student body, and quickly.
The bottom line is simple: students want a union that is both equitable and representative.
Squabbling for the next 12 months is not an option. Unless we want to run out the clock on our union, we need to engage everyone on campus now and find a solution that works.
Ryan Gomes is the Vice-President Academic at the Engineering Society. He is a third-year student.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified Ryan Gomes as the Vice-President University Affairs at the Engineering Society.