Meeting etiquette still applies even when it’s online

The SFSS AGM was an amazing success, but I was disappointed in my peers

Photo Courtesy of the Simon Fraser Student Society

By: Marco Ovies, Editor-in-Chief

Last Monday, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) held their Annual General Meeting (AGM) online with over 600 people in attendance. The last time the AGM had a turnout like this was back in 2006, with the majority of students attending this year to condemn SFU for tuition hikes and for the many raffle prizes.

A benefit of the SFSS holding the AGM over Zoom was the use of the chat function. Students were able to talk to each other in real-time to ask questions and fix technical issues. Despite the high attendance through Zoom and the versatility of the chat, like any time you give students the opportunity to communicate freely, internet trolls came rushing in. 

While joking around with peers is fine, it needs to be understood that this was a serious meeting that affected not only the current student body, but future students’ lives as well. 

Online or in person, students should be respectful during meetings. The SFSS is not a club, they are a group that are trying to pass important policies to hold our university accountable and better the lives of its students. So it is helpful to no one when attendees come into the chat and send a mass block of white squares.

One of the more playful comments included: “I propose we give $20 million to SFU Anime Club just to see what happens,” with responses like “student engagement will only surge with the power of anime.” There was even a discussion of distributing body pillows to all SFU students. While these comments in the moment are fun, other comments had more negative connotations. 

“Everyone deny the vote for lols” said one SFU student regarding the motion to condemn SFU for the tuition increase, while another student suggested that we “vote against [it] to save time” in hopes that we could get to the raffle draw sooner. 

Just because we are online does not give students the excuse to not take these meetings seriously, and being disrespectful in chat is no benefit to anyone. It got to the point where Osob Mohamed — chair of the meeting and president of the SFSS — had to hop into the chat and say “I am reminding the assembly of the rules of the meeting.”

Additionally, spamming the chat just makes everything run slower. One user even said that “this chat is slowing my computer to the point of it not loading.” Spammers are not God’s gift to mankind because they think they’re funny in chat, especially when it is hindering others’ experience of the AGM.

If pointless behaviour like this continues, I’m sure chat functions will be disabled in potential future meetings, which will be worse for everyone. So just don’t be a dick, and leave dumb commentary to Reddit.