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KSU to decide on conference funding (updated)

Update: Council unanimously approved the $420 in funding at Sunday’s council meeting. This year’s finance committee members were also appointed Sunday. The members met Thursday, before they were approved by council, and unofficially recommended the funding.

[box type=”info”]Correction: Stefanie Bliss cited the finance committee not existing yet — not it not having met yet — as the reason for the GM.
Update: Council unanimously approved the $420 in funding at Sunday’s council meeting.
This year’s finance committee members (Emily Watson, Parker Cumming, Matthew Benedict and Stephanie Duchon) were also appointed Sunday. The members met Thursday, before they were approved by council, and unofficially recommended the funding.[/box]
The King’s Students’ Union has spoken, but not without asking why they did.
Students passed an amended motion 47 to 41 on Monday to put the newly struck finance committee to work. The committee will decide whether sustainability conference PowerShift will receive up to $420 in KSU funding.
The original motion would have had the student body decide if the conference would receive the $2500 originally asked for.
“There was a clear place for (the proposal) to be sent,” said sixth-year student David Etherington, who motioned for the original amendment to send the decision to the finance committee. Etherington served as KSU chair last year.
“Overall, the project of having the general membership meet more often and talk about more big-picture stuff is a good endeavour. I think it’s a good project,” he said. “I think having them talk about a $2500 funding proposal is a complete waste of everyone’s time.”
Etherington wasn’t alone in his concern. Third-year Braeden Jones, among others, said at the GM that the finance committee was better qualified to handle the issue.
At the preceding KSU Council meeting, Board of Governors representative Anna Dubinski voted against the motion to defer the decision to a GM. She said it was a decision that could and should be made by the elected representatives on council.
Council had discussed sending the motion to the finance committee at their meeting. However, at the GM, interim chair Stefanie Bliss said they decided to send the motion to a GM because the committee’s first meeting was not until Sept. 27, about a week and a half after council met. Council also took into account PowerShift’s concern about booking a bus in time. The conference is from Oct. 26 to 29 in Ottawa.
KSU external vice president Omri Haiven, who made the original motion, defended council’s decision at the GM. He said the entire KSU should be able to vote on the matter as everyone in the KSU is eligible to benefit from the funding.
“This is as democratic as this shit gets,” Haiven said.
Etherington disagreed. He said in an interview that a GM of 80 or so unelected students voting on spending $2500 to which every KSU member contributed shouldn’t have happened. Elected representatives on council, he said, should have it in their mandate to be responsible for students’ best interests.
He said the presentations by PowerShift and the KSU executive brought up more questions than they answered.
“I think that, by and large, that’s the reason the vote went the way it did, that no one knew what was going on.”
PowerShift’s representative Robin Tress said she thought PowerShift got their message out well.
“We talked for a long time about PowerShift and people were asking really intelligent questions and challenging questions,” she said.
“On top of that, we got the support of the KSU. We have their written support of our aims and goals … Money is always a contentious thing to be asking for. Obviously, that didn’t go as well as I’d hoped, but it never really does.”
Bliss said that, in retrospect, a “comprehensive preamble” explaining the situation might have been beneficial. Though Etherington agrees, he says the meeting was “chaotic” and the issue comes down to poor organization by both PowerShift and council.
“I think this is an example of the rather low quality of council that we are continually seeing,” he said.
“I don’t mean that we don’t have good people, but maybe the mandate we’re setting isn’t clear.”

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

2 replies on “KSU to decide on conference funding (updated)”

“He said in an interview that a GM of 80 or so unelected students voting on spending $2500 to which every KSU member contributed shouldn’t have happened.” How is this different from when “80 or so unelected students” pass constitutional changes that far more drastically affect the student body that a funding request does? I don’t see that as a valid point.

Anon,
Those constitutional motions do go to the general body, but ideally, after having been reviewed by committee. I am firm in my opinion that due to the great power the general membership holds when they vote, they more than anyone else must ensure they are well informed before making a decision. At the meeting in question a sort of mob ethos was espoused that the power to make a decision was validation enough to make it. I reject completely that notion. It is mob rule and little else.
Cheers,
David

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