March 12, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 85  

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Motion to change voting rights defeated after long debate

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff

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.



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