The recent AGM continues to raise a range of concerns
by justin passmore, contributor
When it came to the University of Regina Students’ Union’s (URSU) Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 2, 2023, I started wondering throughout the AGM if URSU is truly a democratic institution anymore. I was slightly aware of the issues and concerns surrounding URSU prior to the AGM, but that still did not prepare me for what I saw at the over four-hour-long URSU AGM, which only ended on page 4 of the AGM’s 26-page agenda.
Right at the beginning, there was nothing but issues. It took 45 minutes for them to set up a vote to decide on a chair for the AGM, a vote that they originally wanted to execute through having students use the reaction function on Zoom – which disappears after 10 seconds and would involve over 200 students, I may also add. Then, when a student named Tayef mentioned that this meeting should be done in person to make it easier, the URSU Vice President (VP) of student affairs decided to respond to that concern by saying “let’s meet then, Tayef…” Having a VP of student affairs respond to a student’s question like that publicly made me question if URSU truly cares about the concerns of students.
Prior to the AGM, I noticed some issues with the executive committee in regard to section 3.3 Conflict of Commitment of URSU’s Conflict of Interest and Conflict Policy, which pertains to members of the executive committee requiring the board of directors’ permission before accepting external or additional employment. The issues I had was how the president of URSU mentioned having a second job in a press conference at the Legislative Building a few weeks prior to the AGM, and how I noticed a few months ago when shopping in the south end that URSU’s VP of operations and finance was also working a second job in the area I was shopping.
When I voiced these issues and asked if the board was notified after the VP of operations and finance’s presentation, neither the URSU president nor the VP of operations and finance answered my question. Instead, URSU’s general manager (GM) did so, saying the president was misquoted without saying what she meant, and not even addressing my comment on the VP of operations and finance. This kind of dismissal really showed to me how seriously URSU takes their own policies and student issues, by brushing one part of my concern away without properly answering and not even addressing the second part.
When it came to the vote on resolution 1.3, the resolution on withheld dues of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), the flaws with URSU became even more apparent. Right before the resolution, a student called a motion to recess due to the AGM going past its listed end time and because a good amount of students had already left the meeting. The URSU admin and executive committee spoke out against this motion, citing that they needed to get through all the motions, and they even brought in ‘legal counsel’ to tell students that URSU could get sued if they do not pay CFS.
The motion to call recess ultimately failed and the discussion around resolution 1.3 began. This discussion around resolution 1.3 is where I very greatly questioned who URSU represents. The chair of the AGM decided to silence a student speaking out against resolution 1.3 by saying her concern that resolution 1.3 will keep us with CFS is really just a question, and when the student asked if she could make it a question then, the chair told her to go to the back of the line to speak.
It is worth noting that the chair of the AGM was with the CFS for 5 years and 7 months as per her LinkedIn account, thus showing URSU did not care about the conflict of interest in regards to resolution 1.3. This chair of the AGM also temporarily disabled the Zoom chat at the start of the AGM, and made a ruling of only three speakers for and against a motion while claiming it came from Robert’s Rules, which it does not. After the passing of resolution 1.3 is when I decided to call a motion for a recess with the same rules as the previous recess motion that did not pass. This time it passed, showing me it was not all the motions they wanted to get through, but just one specific motion.
Overall, this AGM just ultimately made me believe that URSU is no longer a democratic institution that represents the students of the University of Regina, as they seem not to care about the issues students have, nor about their own policies. But hey, at least the GM of URSU advertised a CFS job within Saskatchewan at the end of the AGM! That’s more advertisement than they have done for a lot of student events!
Editor’s Note: Since the publication of this article, Harshkumar Patel – VP Student Affairs for the University of Regina Students’ Union – reached out to us asking for this article to be corrected. He claims that the comment made in response to Tayef noted in the article was not made by him.
We looked through all the information we collected during the AGM and found that it is possible Harshkumar is correct, though we cannot confirm this.
The Zoom participant name of the individual who responded to Tayef was “harsh pate,” who wrote “lets meet than tayef…..” at 5:28 p.m. in the Zoom call’s chat in response to Tayef’s comments. At 6:32 p.m. when the VP Student Affairs began his executive report, his participant name displayed as “Harshkumar Patel – VPSA” while he spoke. We cannot confirm whether that was Harshkumar’s listed participant name through the entire call or whether ‘harsh pate’ was still on the call under that name at that time; part of this confusion is due to the lack of clarity in URSU’s vetting of members who joined the Zoom call. We do not have conclusive evidence for either claim to be asserted beyond a reasonable doubt, and are not able to confirm or deny that the original writer of the comment was Harshkumar Patel.