TRUSU AGM under-attended

Brendan Kergin, News Editor  Ω

Thompson Rivers University Student Union held its annual general meeting last week. While the meeting did not meet quorum (the minimum number of attending members to make the meeting official), student participation was much higher than last year.

The meeting came to order with 39 students signed in, though later in the meeting it appeared a few more trickled in, though the number never met the minimum of 50 members.

“It’s not a [ratified] general meeting, so under the bylaws we will move forward with certain items.

“Without quorum we can not vote on special resolutions,” TRUSU Executive Director Nathan Lane announced to those who did attend.

The meeting covered a variety of topics, including a 57 page report on projects TRUSU has been working on and services they provide to students.

Students were also shown the 2011-12 budget for the first time.

The biggest news about the budget wasn’t actually a line item, but the fact the budget will be put on the TRUSU website soon for members to view.

This was in response to recent concerns raised by members about the transparency of their fees.
One student raised the issue of high fees for TRU students.

Lane spoke to this and noted that TRU does have some of the highest ancillary fees.

“We have on numerous occasions worked with the university on ancillary fees, whether those amounts are appropriate.

“We have for about five years been working to ensure that those fees either return value to the member or that they cease being collected,” said Lane.

Other concerns and questions brought up by students included the health and dental plan and services, especially in relation to international students; food services on campus in relation to a variety of dietary restrictions, the food bank, mandatory membership in the student union and more particular questions about how student’s money was being used.

Kevin Pankewich, member of the TRUSU Socialist Club and Politics Club, attended the meeting and asked about the opportunity for direct democracy online. He thought the overall meeting went well.

“It’s too bad there [weren’t] more students there,” said Pankewich.

“I hope they’ll improve that [communication] next year because it was really worth going to.”

TRUSU VP External Jordan Harris thought the meeting was a success with much better attendance compared to last year.

“I thought we did a good job on communicating the AGM,” said Harris.

“I think we can always work to create more communication on campus.”

Student communication and participation is considered an issue across campus by a variety of student representatives, students and other university staff.

“Unions are one of the most democratic things there are in society and they’re only as democratic as there is participation. More participation equals more democracy as far as I’m concerned,” said Pankewich.

Also of note was the absence of TRUSU President Abdallah El Chami. He did not attend the meeting or previous council meetings. Harris said he’s tendered his resignation due to personal reasons.

The Omega does intend to follow up on some of the issues brought forth by students at the meeting and take a more in depth loot at the budget in the coming weeks. If you would like to speak to us about some of the concerns brought up at the AGM, please contact news editor Brendan Kergin at b.kergin@gmail.com.

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