By: Paige Riding, News Writer and Gurpreet Kambo, News Editor
NOTE: The Peak will be following up with a separate article about the contents of the reports from the Board of Directors, VP Finance, and Auditor’s reports.
Once again, students had the opportunity to exercise their right to holding the SFSS accountable at the 2019 Annual General Meeting. The AGM is where SFU members can find out where their money truly goes and have their say in a democratic and transparent setting.
The meeting took place in the Leslie & Gordon Diamond Family Auditorium. Seated in the front were SFSS representatives Giovanni HoSang (President), Christina Loutsik (Vice President Student Services), Tawanda Nigel Chitapi (VP Finance), Sylvia Ceacero (Executive Director), as well as the meeting’s presiding officer Eli Mina. Students scattered around the room held their stark yellow voting cards boasting the phrase “This is my vote” in anticipation of the votes to commence. All SFU undergraduate students are members of the SFSS, and have the right to one vote on each matter on the agenda.
A recorder of the minutes was to the tablers’ left. To their right, a video camera recorded the proceedings for future reference. On either side of the audience, two microphones stood tall for anyone interested in commenting or raising an argument to any of the matters at hand. 2019’s AGM was not as well-attended as the previous year, though the 2018 AGM had significantly more controversial items on the agenda such as the impeachment of former President Jas Randhawa.
As the meeting did not have the required 250-person quorum at the outset, the meeting was paused for additional students to arrive. The non-quorate meeting proceeded at 1:51 p.m.; under the Societies Act, non-quorate meetings can vote on items essential to the organization’s continued functioning such as the annual budget. However, any bylaw amendments or special resolutions would require a full quorum. Following the call to order and territorial acknowledgment, the AGM proceeded with the appointment of Eli Mina as presiding officer.
Most of the meeting proceeded as expected, and laid out in the AGM agenda. This included the adoption of the agenda and receipt of the minutes of the 2018 AGM by a vote of the students present. The AGM package that was distributed included the reports from the Board of Directors, the VP Finance, and the auditor (which The Peak will be reporting on in a separate article and can be found at this link). All of the reports were received by a vote of the AGM, and subsequently Tompkins Wozny LLP, Chartered Professional Accountants, were appointed as the auditor for the 2019–2020 year.
The final item on the agenda was the Open Space, in which members of the society are invited to ask questions of their elected representatives. Several questions followed from audience members. SFU student and 2019 board candidate Sheldon Bond asked several questions about the nature and cost of former CEO Martin Wyant’s “separation agreement,” and the reasons for his departure from the SFSS.
VP Finance Tawanda Nigel Chitapi responded “whenever there’s a separation of the CEO from an organization, there’s what’s called a severance package [ . . . ] and that’s what that amount is for.”
Executive Director Sylvia Ceacero added that Wyant “decided to market his skills and his time elsewhere.”
However, this did not satisfy Bond, as he further inquired why Wyant would receive a severance package “if he quit.” Chitapi answered that “it’s the law, it’s industry practice, whether you quit or you leave. If you are the CEO of an organization, that is something you have to get, it’s non-negotiable.”
The Peak requested clarification during question period, and pointed out that it is not the law to give severance packages to people who quit jobs. To this, Chitapi invited those inquiring to meet him in his office for further clarification.
Ceacero added to the discussion: “I think it will be in appropriate for anybody here to comment on HR and personnel issues in an open forum.” Ceacero further added that the former CEO received a severance package due to the specifics of his contract, and that “we move on to the happier times that we have ahead.”
Multiple questions were asked by members about the status of the discussion related to the Rotunda groups and space allocation in the SUB, and in particular the alternative plan brought forward by HoSang to house the groups. HoSang responded to these by stating that the issue is still under discussion, and that “there is a motion that is tabled [ . . . ] it will be at a future meeting that the decision will be made.”
There were also questions about the status of Fraser International College students as members of the SFSS, and whether they’d be getting the U-Pass. HoSang responded that FIC members are not members of the SFSS yet, but that the matter is currently under discussion.
Subsequently, there were no additional questions, and the body voted to adjourn the meeting.