KPIRG Unable to Update Bylaws at SGM on July 24

The group’s directors are confident that KPIRG will remain functional despite unchanged bylaws and a lack of funding

KPIRG Director Simon Massey takes the mic to adjourn the special general meeting. (Alyssa Laube)

KPIRG Director Simon Massey takes the mic to adjourn the special general meeting. (Alyssa Laube)

The Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group was unable to meet the 50-member quorum needed to proceed with its special general meeting on July 24. As a result, KPIRG could not adopt proposed changes to its bylaws that would allow the group to function more efficiently following the Kwantlen Student Association’s decision to withhold its funding.

In a meeting of Council on April 6, the KSA voted to revoke its autonomy agreement with KPIRG—and thus defund the research group—in response to the news that Richard Hossein, a former founder and administrative coordinator for KPIRG, had allegedly defrauded the group of approximately $112,000.

The KSA’s decision ensured that KPIRG will not be receiving money from KPU students for the foreseeable future and, as such, KPIRG’s directors were concerned about whether or not their group could technically claim to have members. According to KPIRG’s bylaws, “ordinary members” must pay the fee that funds the research group, and as the fee will no longer be remitted to KPIRG, it is not clear if KPU students can still be considered ordinary members.

KPIRG’s directors hoped to change the bylaws so that it could continue to operate without ordinary members. Despite the fact that quorum was not met at the SGM, and therefore the revised bylaws could not be adopted, KPIRG Director Simon Massey still sees the meeting as a positive sign for KPIRG’s future.

“Though it wasn’t successful, this was an SGM in the summer and we got 36 people out to it … I don’t think that shows that no one’s watching us,” says Massey. “This wasn’t a fun event. This didn’t have a party attached to it. This wasn’t something where we had a bunch of prizes for people to show up to. This was just, ‘If you see value in this, please come help us.’”

The Definition of Membership

Although the revised bylaws were not adopted, both Massey and KSA VP University Affairs Murdoch de Mooy agree that the current definition of membership in KPIRG’s bylaws is open to interpretation.

Because “member” and “ordinary member” are used synonymously in the bylaws, any registered KPU student who has “paid the per-credit membership fee” is technically considered a member of KPIRG. After extensive discussion between KPIRG and the KSA, both parties have agreed that, because students are still paying the per-credit fee to—in theory—fund a public interest research group on campus, they will remain members of KPIRG, even though the funds are not currently available to KPIRG.

Due to this agreement, KPIRG can continue listing KPU students as ordinary numbers and remain functional without access to funding.

Other Revisions to the Bylaws

In addition to the edits regarding membership, KPIRG’s directors also hoped to apply a number of other changes to the group’s bylaws.

One such change was to shorten the period during which student members could opt-out of paying the KPIRG fee from one month to two weeks. Another was to ensure that none of the group’s directors would receive payment for their work.

According to Massey, most of the changes were to remove minor errors and inconsistencies or to account for the possibility that KSA executives may one day change their minds on how membership is interpreted in the group’s bylaws.

KPIRG’s Future

At the moment, KSA President Caitlin McCutchen says that she can not not definitively say when or if the student association will vote to once again remit fees to the research group.

“It’s too soon to really be addressing what KPIRG needs to do since it’s only been a few months since their scandal,” McCutchen wrote in an email to The Runner on July 20.

Despite the controversy that KPIRG has seen, Massey feels that the organization remains valuable to students because “it’s something that isn’t provided to them by the rest of KPU.” He also emphasizes that the group is striving to reinvent itself and be more ambitious in the upcoming semesters.

“We have a new group of staff. We’re coming at this from a different direction than the PIRG did in past years. We’re trying to outreach more. We’re trying to have more partnerships with classes and focus more on actually getting out there and engaging.”

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