The Scarborough Campus Student Union (SCSU) held an emergency board of directors meeting on November 7, exactly a week before its Annual General Meeting (AGM). The emergency meeting discussed whether to add several recommendations from the SCSU Policy and By-law Committee to the AGM agenda.
One such motion was presented by Sarkis Kidanian, the President of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association at UTSC.
Kidanian motioned to have the SCSU “host a Fall General Meeting and a Winter General Meeting to make the Student Union’s work transparent and allow the students to hold their executed tasks accountable.”
According to the motion, these additional meetings are necessary because not everyone can attend the AGM and “the student body cannot hold SCSU executive accountable with only one [AGM].”
The committee recommended that the motion be added to the AGM agenda with some amendments, namely specifying dates during which the additional meetings could be held, as well as giving the SCSU the power to make any bylaw and policy amendments necessary in order to hold these meetings if passed.
This recommendation and all associated amendments from the committee passed.
Another motion was made by member Anup Atwal to allow online voting in SCSU elections.
In the motion, Atwal raised SCU Reform’s concern that the “SCSU has struggled to address the concerns of voter apathy over the past several years, resulting in less than 15 per cent of members participating in the electoral process.”
Atwal recommended that the SCSU solve this issue by “permitting electronic balloting for all future Elections and Referenda held by the Union through the U-elecT system.”
The committee recommended that the motion not be added to the AGM agenda, with a committee member explaining that they did not approve it because of the proposal to use the U-elecT system.
Director of Philosophy Rebecca Saldanha agreed with Atwal but said that “it is problematic to trust the university as we are a union separate from the university.”
“It’s the union’s job to check students like in any other union, in work rather, you’re separate from your work because you’re supposed to depend on your union,” Saldanha continued. “We have two different mascots for the university and the union. We don’t trust them with the mascot, how do you trust them with something so serious as voting?”
The U-elecT system is run through the university and is used by several student organizations, including The Varsity.
SCSU President Nicole Brayiannis said that “one of the biggest concerns with online voting is coercion.”
Brayiannis outlined that “right now at least we have tape lines so that students can’t physically go with other students to the voting area” and “if [voting] is online there’s no safety measures for students to vote.”
While Brayiannis agreed that online voting can be convenient, she said that “for now I don’t think it’s a smart move on the union to implement or seek to kind of rush this process by the spring election.”
The University of Toronto Students’ Union underwent a similar debate before it approved online voting in 2013.
After a lengthy debate, the recommendation was passed, meaning that the motion will not be on the agenda at the AGM.
The SCSU emergency meeting was announced just over 48 hours in advance on the SCSU’s Facebook page. This was in violation of its bylaws as outlined in section 2.2 of the SCSU constitution, which states that notice of emergency meetings has to be given at least 72 hours in advance.
SCSU has not responded to requests for comment.