KSA to Propose Three-Year Plan, Continuation of Honorariums, and New Internal Committee At Upcoming AGM
Featured / February 23, 2017
Proposals will be discussed at Council meeting on Feb 17 before AGM at the end of March
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor
The Kwantlen Student Association is striving to make several changes to their bylaws during their 2017 annual general meeting, tentatively scheduled for March 30. In order to alter the bylaws, at least 200 students must be present at the meeting.
KSA bylaws have not been changed since 2011, largely due to the inability to gather enough people at the meeting in order to reach quorum. Because of how long it has been since the last development, there is a long list of both major and minor amendments that councillors would like to see passed. Three important alterations have already been suggested, although none have currently been approved by Council.
A Three-Year Strategic Plan
One of the propositions being made is drafting a three-year strategic plan for the Kwantlen Student Association. In order to organize the KSA more efficiently in the future, members of council are hoping to create a strategic plan starting in 2017 and ending in 2020. This contrasts to the expiring plan, which lasted for five years and was largely ignored, according to KSA President and VP External Alex McGowan.
“A strategic plan should be very central to all key decisions that are being made. It should be a guiding document for future councils, staff people, and executives, but it hasn’t been the case with that [five year] strategic plan,” says McGowan. “Our goal last year was to create a three-year plan that would essentially be the KSA’s first strategic plan, because we’d do it with extensive consultation with staff, students, and councillors to develop something that our organization believes in, and something that informs new councillors every year and helps them set our priorities and helps us measure our success.”
McGowan attributes the lack of importance placed on the previous strategic plan to the fact that there was not unanimous buy-in to the document. Because consultation was not done properly, members of the student association did not feel that it was relevant to their work, and functioned independently of it.
The three-year plan would include a mission, a vision, and values, as well as a set of goal areas “where [they] want to see improvement or continue development on” until 2020. It will be used as a framework for councillors and committees to create their own one-year plans as well.
“I’m very excited to have a document that very clearly articulates where we expect the KSA to be, what sort of goals we have, what we think the current strengths are, and how we can improve it. Students can see that and hold us to that,” says McGowan. “Having a plan like this is really important to empower councillors and students who get involved with the KSA to see what the big picture is and to have input on it.”
Honorariums for Directors
Another item on the agenda is being able to pay councillors and committee members in accordance with Bill 24, also known as the Societies Act, as compared to the previously active Society Act. Technically, the Societies Act does not allow for directors—including councillors and committee members—to be compensated by means of honorarium for attending meetings unless explicitly permitted in a society’s bylaws. The honorarium the KSA provides is small, at $50 per meeting for each member that attends, but often compensates for time that could otherwise be spent at work or school.
Without being able to change their bylaws at the AGM, KSA councillors will feel the conflict of having to dedicate an entire day to student politics without pay. Executives, as “officers” of the KSA, will still be able to receive pay for their services.
“The result [of not changing the bylaw] would be, in 2018, we would have to stop paying councillors,” says McGowan. “The current rationale for paying an honorarium to councillors is that it makes council accessible. We want to make sure that council is not just a place for people who have the money to be able to forgo work, so we want to provide some level of compensation for people’s time.”
The Internal Committee
The final motion being made by Council is to abolish both the Governance and Appointments Committees and merge them into one collective. This new group would tentatively be called the Internal Committee, and would cover all of the responsibilities of those that came before it.
McGowan describes the governance committee’s role as “reviewing, updating, and suggesting improvements for bylaws and regulations.” As it stands, there are seven council members, a chairperson that acts as the speaker of council, and one student at large on the Governance Committee. The new committee would have a similar size and constitution, with the addition of one executive. According to McGowan, that executive would either be the president of the KSA or “someone else chosen by the executive committee.”
The Governance Committee makes decisions by majority vote, so a single member would not have the ability to approve or veto a change. Although some council members have demonstrated concern about the addition of an executive on a committee that handles governance and appointments, McGowan says that the primary cause for its creation is to make each of the existing committees more efficient. The KSA executive team has noticed that both the Appointments and Governance Committees have “bursts” of work, rather than a steady flow, and figured that by combining them, the Association would be more productive.
“Then we found that there are other things that can be done that we don’t have any committee responsibility for that should be the responsibility of the group,” says McGowan. “Things like our strategic plan, which is the responsibility of the Executive Committee.”
Professional development, orientation, training, and activity planning could also be a duty of the new Internal Committee.
“This is a bit of an innovative solution to create one committee that’s responsible for all these tasks, and it would fit within the time frame, because the appointments committee and governance committee are usually busy at different times of the year anyways,” says McGowan. “They both look at the internal workings and operation of council and the KSA.”
He adds that it’s common for universities to have internal committees such as the one being proposed, and that executives often attend Governance and Appointments Committee meetings for support anyway.
Simon Massey, former councillor and Arts Representative for the KSA, is opposed to the creation of the internal committee. While he acknowledges that the governance committee is not an oversight committee in itself, he feels that, “in the past, Governance has been the only committee ever used to hold [the executive team] accountable, and that becomes a bit of a problem if you have the President, who’s the chair of the executive committee, setting the agenda for what is now governance in the Internal Committee.”
“It’s going to be that much harder for councillors to bring up their concerns,” says Massey.
He is also doubtful that the makeup of the proposed Internal Committee would be conducive to transparency and diversity due to its small size, heavy workload, and lack of students at large.
“It’s a very small group of people who are choosing which student members get to participate in Council through committees and also directing outreach,” says Massey. “I feel, with more committees and student members on those committees, you bring a more diverse group of people into the KSA as opposed to a very narrow, focused one.”
Massey is further opposed to the Internal Committee because it wouldn’t be chaired by the Speaker of Council, as governance is now. He feels that having the Speaker as chair is “a fantastic thing because Council has the ability to hire a Speaker who’s very knowledgeable about policy and the Society Act.” He also appreciates the Speaker’s impartiality.
McGowan notes that the Internal Committee is still in the development stage,
“Council still has not deliberated on it, and I know a lot of discussions have not been had,” he says. “Right now it’s just a proposal, so I don’t want to say either way that it’s good or bad, but it would definitely be a change.”
If all of the above regulation and bylaw changes are made, students will be looking at a reformed Kwantlen Student Association come spring. However, failure to retain a crowd of 200 at the annual general meeting will render the bylaws static until possibly a special general meeting is held in September.