KSA votes to ban electronic recordings of council meetings

Surrey director argues that move to stop recording public meetings will prevent things from “getting leaked.”

By Matt DiMera
[news editor]

The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) banned all electronic recordings of their meetings on May 11.

The motion did not specifically reference The Runner, but ordered that meetings could no longer be recorded without prior approval from council.

Senate representativeChristopher Girodat argued against the ban on recording public KSA meetings. /RUNNER FILE PHOTO

The motion was moved by Surrey director Sean Bassi and seconded by Cloverdale director Shivinder Grewal.

“Some things are already getting leaked,” said Bassi. “So I just feel that it’s necessary to prevent those issues.”

Bassi was the only member of council who spoke to defend the motion.

Student senator Christopher Girodat argued that the motion was inappropriate and offensive.

“I’ve said it probably a dozen times so far since this term began and I’ll simply say it again,” said Girodat. “Members of council are responsible to students. If they are not willing to stand up to public scrutiny they should walk out that door and drop their resignation letter on the desk.”

“If you don’t want it to be recorded don’t say it.”

Langley director and Runner contributor Jennifer Campbell said the motion would go against members of council who had previously argued for more transparency.

“Our students deserve to know what is going on,” said Campbell. “Pushing out the newspaper that reports on these issues, I think, is a way of trying to be less transparent to the people who pretty much pay our salaries and that’s not fair.”

Surrey officer Sunita Sohi also spoke against the proposed motion, saying it would give the appearance that the council had something to hide.

Philosophy student Sophia Veale said that expecting students to attend lengthy council meetings in addition to attending class is unrealistic.

“There are students that aren’t ever going to read the minutes, it’s just how it is,” said Veale. “But they do have that option of picking up a newspaper and reading it before class.”

“I would be really disheartened if there wasn’t that opportunity for The Runner to be publishing things.”

Student-at-large Pavan Sodhan then motioned to cut off the debate and go straight to the vote.

The motion passed by a large majority with only Sohi (holding Richmond director Harj Dhesi’s proxy vote), Girodat (holding Richmond representative Sasha Mirza’s proxy vote) and Campbell (holding her own vote and Langley representative Ken McIntyre’s proxy vote) voting against. Council members who are unable to attend a meeting can assign their proxy to another student, allowing them to vote in the council member’s place.

Long-time Kwantlen journalism instructor Mark Hamilton expressed puzzlement upon learning of the decision.

“I can think of no valid reasons why a body that relies on the support of its members should take such a stand,” wrote Hamilton in an e-mail interview.

According to Hamilton, recorders have become standard practice for journalists and can help resolve disputes over what is reported.

“It’s in the best interest of any elected body that is doing the public’s business, to do everything it can to ensure that media and others have access to the tools that will help them provide accurate reports of proceedings.”

The KSA council had briefly discussed the issue at it’s first meeting of the term on April 6, when student-at-large Pavan Sodhan and the director of operations Justine Franson expressed their concerns about being recorded.

Franson had inquired if council had the power to compel The Runner to leave the meeting, but was warned against it.

The then acting-General Manager, Catherine Wilkinson explained that council meetings are public.

“In the spirit of the KSA wanting to be transparent and to allow students to be here, I think that we breach that if we don’t allow media in here with different [sic] whatever forms they want to use,” said Wilkinson at the April 6 meeting.