Volume 96, Issue 91
Friday, March 21, 2003

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Council restructuring contested

Residence representation key concern

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff



A motion that could alter the entire structure of the University Students' Council has residence councillors in an uproar about losing their voting power.

The motion, initially presented to council at the first part of the USC's Annual General Meeting on Mar. 12, was tabled because the meeting lasted until 1 a.m.. At the second part of the AGM on Mar. 15, the motion was again tabled, leaving it to be dealt with by the incoming, newly-elected councillors.

USC President Chris Sinal said the motion was based on a report from the Internal Review Committee suggesting changes to the structure of council. The motion will eliminate the voting power of residence councillors, Senate and Board of Governors representatives, as well as the USC Board of Directors, Sinal confirmed. The student-councillor ratio will be changed from 600 students to one councillor, to 400 to one, in order to counter for the loss of residence votes, he added.

According to incoming Saugeen-Maitland Hall president Bevan Earhart, residence councillors have a different interest than faculty councillors. "By restructuring council and taking votes away, they are stifling our voice," Earhart said, noting that, despite the fact that presidents will remain ex-officio members with speaking privileges, there will be no weight behind their voice.

"I think it sends the message that [first-year students] don't count," Earhart said. "The USC works hard to combat apathy, but I think all of that is lip service. They are saying one thing and doing another."

Social science councillor and IRC member Eric Johanssen said the purpose of the motion was to ensure more representation for the student body as a whole. He said the rationale behind the motion was to avoid double representation of first-year students via residence and faculty councillors and ensure equal representation across the board.

Earhart also noted that, because this is a bylaw-altering motion, it should have been dealt with by the outgoing council. The newly elected and mostly acclaimed council may not appreciate the importance of residence councillors, he said.

"The original intention was to have council debate it by turnover, but there was not enough time," Sinal said, noting that, by this standard, it is difficult to determine when councillors become qualified to handle such issues.

According to USC president-elect Paul Yeoman, he is glad the motion has been moved to the incoming council. "It's a huge issue – council will need to do their research," he said, noting there will now be sufficient time to give the motion the attention it deserves.

The motion will be presented to council at the Mar. 26 meeting.

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