The UTSU held its monthly Board of Directors meeting on the afternoon of September 28. Topics on the agenda included the confirmation of the agenda for the Annual General Meeting (AGM), as well as the establishment of a shortlist committee to find a replacement Vice-President University Affairs.

VP University Affairs

Discussions about finding a replacement VP University Affairs, following the resignation of Carina Zhang in early September, have coincided with the UTSU moving forward with conversations that could lead to the dissolution of both the VP University Affairs and VP External roles and create a new VP Advocacy position.

UTSU President Mathias Memmel stressed that, while the reform talks coincide with finding a replacement for Zhang, the idea to combine the two positions into one was part of the platform of his Demand Better slate, which all of the executives save Zhang and VP External Anne Boucher ran with. Memmel said that the decision is a response to how each executive position’s responsibilities have changed over the years.

If the VP Advocacy position is created, it will be instituted in the next academic year. In the meantime, a committee has been formed to develop a shortlist of candidates to apply for the VP University Affairs position through an appointment process. Board members were selected to help with the decision, in line with a procedural structure that Memmel says has been used since the 2015–2016 academic year.

The union has also accepted the resignations of General Equity Director Ted Williamson and Faculty of Engineering Director Danja Papajani.

Bylaw XIX and the AGM

Notably, the board meeting touched on the addition of Bylaw XIX to the union, which will go before a vote at the AGM in late October. The proposed bylaw, in support of keeping the union autonomous, would prevent the UTSU from joining any group, or making any decision, where they would be unable to withdraw with a board vote. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), which UTSU Executives have been highly critical of, are one of these groups that can not be left with a simple board vote. According to Memmel, the bylaw is simply meant to ensure that “the UTSU’s autonomy isn’t taken lightly.” Memmel said that the UTSU is also not the first to take these precautions: he claimed the Dalhousie Student’s Union have done the same in their bylaws.

The meeting ended with a confirmation the agenda for the AGM to be held on October 30, 2017. Topics on the agenda include the presidential address as well as the review of the year’s audited financial statements. As for Memmel’s hopes for the meeting, he would like it to be “civil.”

New committee formed

Another committee formed at the meeting was the Collective Bargaining Oversight Committee, whose job it will be to assist the Management Committee. The newly created committee will have directors participating in “the collective bargaining process,” said Memmel, given that human resources are the UTSU’s largest expense.

CUPE Local 1281, which represents UTSU staff, will enter collective bargaining with the UTSU this academic year; their collective agreement expires in January.

Editor’s Note (October 3): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that a by-election will be held to fill the currently vacant VP University Affairs seat. The seat will actually be an appointed position.