Motion to change voting rights defeated after long debate
By Marshall Bellamy
After almost two hours of contentious debate at Wednesday
night’s University Students’ Council meeting, the
motion to dramatically alter the composition of council was
defeated by a vote of 27 against to 21 in favour.
The motion — brought forward by those who felt a need
for more equal distribution of representation to council — would
have seen the USC vice-presidents, faculty presidents, residence
councillors, senators and student representatives from the
Board of Governors lose their vote on council but retain their
right to speak at council meetings.
“We need to see in it an equitable right and shift its
focus where we share ideas and opinions,” said arts councillor
Julia Rady, the member who posted the motion. “This motion
changes the spirit of council from vote to voice.”
USC President Paul Yeoman echoed Rady’s sentiments and
explained the change would not be revoking council member’s
right to speak, which is more valuable than simply voting. “We’re
not kicking anyone off council — involvement on this
council is not about raising a card.”
The ensuing debate heard arguments both in favour and against
the proposed motion.
Health sciences President Paula Van Wyk explained the need
for the USC to remain open to first-year students by maintaining
their representation on council. “It’s just not
feasible for opening up to students in all of the residences — they
will lose interest in council.”
“There doesn’t need to be this separation,” said
science councillor Arzie Chant, noting that a similar motion
was brought to council last year and was also voted down. “I
am concerned with the loss of contact with the residences.”
“This motion is about equal representation for students,” said
social science councillor Kathy Robineau. “If you believe
in equal representation then vote in favour of the motion;
if you don’t, then vote no.”
“You need to listen to people and bring [their opinions]
here — it’s your job,” stated King’s
College President Mike Heilandt, indicating that the duties of
a councillor are not limited to voting.
“As a faculty president I feel I could do a lot more
if I didn’t have to vote on council,” noted arts
President Don Brodhagen, explaining that he would feel comfortable
if another councillor had his USC vote.
“To me, it seems to be a debate against philosophy and
practicality; to me, this doesn’t make any philosophic
sense,” said VP-campus issues Adrienne Kennedy, citing
the need to include everyone.
“It’s guaranteed they will sever the ties with
residences,” explained Medway and Sydenham Hall residence
councillor Rachael Donovan, highlighting the importance of
maintaining a close relationship with the residences.
The debate then took a more sarcastic tone causing USC speaker
Julie Cassidy to attempt to restore order to the debate. “If
we could all eliminate the tone of sarcasm and show each other
respect,” she said.