The Kwantlen Student Association recently opened nominations for their annual general election (AGM). This starts the election process for students to vote for other students to represent them on council.
The association is a non-profit organization incorporated under the B.C. Societies Act and is independent of Kwantlen Polytechnic University. It seeks to “actively seek out ways to enhance campus life” to ensure “the best possible conditions for students” and to “deliver services to enhance [student] experience and success at KPU,” according to the KSA website.
The KSA is “to be a representative student organization which defends the rights and interests of students,” according to its constitution.
The KSA and its services are funded through various fees in student tuition. Some fees are $3.44 per credit and a flat fee of $10.26 per student for operations; $3.31 per credit for the Student Union Building Capital; and $1.14 per semester for the bursary fund.
Some KSA services are the extended health and dental plan, the multipass program, and peer support program. These services are also funded through fees in tuition.
With the upcoming annual election, now is a great time to join and learn about the KSA.
The general election
Per KSA bylaws, a general election is held in February to elect faculty, campus, and constituency representatives. Candidates elected in this election start their term on April 1.
The nomination period opens on a date set by the Chief Returning Officer (CRO), an external party who conducts the election and referenda “in a fair and impartial manner,” according to the KSA Regulations. The CRO is appointed by the KSA council. Candidates must submit a nomination form signed by the candidate and a minimum of 25 KPU students to the CRO.
Nomination forms and candidate’s handbook must be available in the KSA office at each campus and on the KSA website. Candidates can only run for one position at a time.
There are five campus rep positions, one per campus. A candidate must be taking at least one class on the campus they want to represent or have taken a class on the campus in the previous semester, or live in the city the campus is located in. Candidates must confirm they meet one of these criteria on the nomination form.
There are seven constituency rep positions: students of colour, queer, international students, women, Indigenous, disabilities, and mature. Candidates must self-identify as a member of the constituency and indicate so on the nomination form.
There are 14 faculty rep positions: one for academic and career advancement, three for arts rep, five for business rep, one for design rep, one for health rep, two for science and horticulture rep, and one for trades and technology. Candidates must confirm they are registered in the faculty they seek to represent on the nomination form.
Candidate nominations are open for no less than 14 days and no longer than 28 days. Notice of the nomination period is given no less than 14 days before nominations close through posters on campuses, an advertisement on the KSA website, or other media approved by council.
Candidates are “strictly prohibited from running in real or apparent slates,” or sharing expenses for campaigning. KSA Regulations define a slate as “two or more candidates running for elected office in a coordinated fashion to achieve a mutual advantage in the election.”
The CRO verifies the eligibility of candidates and nominators through KPU Registrar’s office, or in other ways as needed, and confirms the validity of all nomination packages. It’s a serious offence for a candidate to submit a false or deceptive nomination form, which can result in disqualification, according to the Regulations. Candidates can appeal a disqualification decision to the CRO.
Full-time employees of KPU, the KSA, or a provincial or national student organization are disqualified from being nominated or elected in the KSA elections. Elected or appointed officers, directors, or full-time employees of another student society as defined in the University Act, and elected or appointed officers, directors, or full-time employees of any campus media organization are also disqualified from the election, as per KSA Regulations.
The University Act defines a student society as a society “whose purpose is to represent the interests of the general undergraduate or graduate student body, or both, but does not include a provincial or national student organization.”
The CRO will organize an All-Candidates Meeting to give an overview of electoral procedure, rules, and other information candidates should know. The CRO will provide a copy of the candidates handbook, which will detail electoral procedures in the bylaws and Regulations relevant to candidates. The CRO may create additional rules, which will be included in the handbook, given that they do not conflict with the bylaws or Regulations.
An official campaign period begins after the All-Candidates Meeting until the end of the voting period. Campaigning outside of the campaign period is prohibited, according to KSA Regulations. However, private communications concerning election plans and circulation of nomination forms and other “reasonable measures taken in order to fulfill nomination requirements” are permitted even before the official campaign period.
The CRO ensures voting ballots are counted as soon as “reasonably possible after the close of an election.” After the votes are counted and “relevant complaints [are] disposed of,” the CRO releases the official election results “pending their presentation to Council and the resolution of any pending appeals,” according to the Regulations.
The CRO also prepares a written report on the election, which includes the results and details of any complaints or appeals and referendum questions, to be presented to council. Once the report is presented to the council, the results are official and binding to the KSA.
KPU students aged 16 or 17 years old can run in the election “provided that the Regulations establish a procedure for ensuring the majority of Councillors are  years old or older and the composition of Council accords with that procedure,” according to KSA bylaws.
The newly elected council takes office on April 1.
Members of the KSA council are subject to the Societies Act and the association’s bylaws. Council is the highest official body representing the KSA and has the authority to “overrule, amend, or otherwise alter any decision of an individual or body of the Society,” according to the bylaws.
Council members adopt policies and the budget by two-thirds resolution, create committees, working or planning groups, and other bodies considered necessary. Council can appoint members of the society or university (students) to committees where there are vacancies. Council members also “have the authority to remove Councillors and Members of the Society from any committees, working groups, planning groups” by two-thirds resolution. They can also adopt any other rules considered necessary for the society, within the bylaws and Regulations.
Members of council attend council meetings, where quorum is met with a majority of councillors in attendance. If quorum is not present within 30-minutes of the scheduled meeting time, the chair of the meeting declares the meeting of council to be dissolved. Each council member is entitled to one vote at meetings of council per motion.
Council meetings are open to all members and honorary members, unless the council goes in-camera to discuss legal or human resource matters or the purchase or sale of property and related funds.
Meetings of council must be held once per month, in accordance with KSA bylaws. The current council voted to meet biweekly in December.
Council members who attend a maximum of six meetings combined in a semester will receive an honorarium of $100 per scheduled and special council meeting, an increase from $75 recently unanimously approved at the Jan. 27 council meeting.
Council members also receive an honorarium of $75 for attending a maximum of five Standing Committee meetings for which they are a representative of per committee.
Elected council members are required to submit proof of registration at KPU each semester they are in office to the KSA executive director.
KSA executive committee
There are four executive positions at the KSA, all of which are council members appointed by a two-thirds resolution of council.
The executive committee is responsible for communications, interpreting policies and decisions of council on a “day-to-day basis,” coordinating negotiations with other parties, ensuring “all deserving Members are recognized for contributions” to the KSA, reviewing the performance of the executive director, and “provide full and timely disclosure of its activities and decisions” to council, according to the bylaws.
The vice-president of finance and operations duties include responsibility for developing the draft budget, present quarterly updates to council on the budget status, be a liaison between the executive committee and the executive director, lead the development of performance measurements related to the effectiveness of financial management and procedures, and lead the development of recommendations to council to use student funds effectively.
The vice-president of university affairs duties include being the liaison between the KSA and KPU, attending all KPU Senate and Board of Governors meetings, coordinating student representation on all committees and task forces appointed, negotiating contracts between the KSA and KPU, and leading the development of recommendations to council on academic policies.
The vice-president of student life duties include the development of policies related to the “effectiveness of social and/or recreational events on campus,” develop policies related to student mental health on campus, be responsible for communication between the KSA and students, and be the contact for student clubs.
The vice-president of external affairs duties include the development of policies related to the KSA’s relationships with external organizations, be responsible for external communication of the KSA, and be responsible for lobbying levels of government based on KSA policies.
The executive committee cannot conduct business until it appoints a president among its members. The president’s duties include chairing meetings of the executive committee, delivering notice of meetings, posting meeting minutes no later than five business days after the date the minutes were approved, preparing the meeting agendas, and being the contact for legal issues excluding those between the KSA, students, and the university.
Each executive must provide a written report regarding ongoing activities related to their position and the executive committee to every council meeting.
Each executive member prepares a “draft budget proposal covering the operations of their office, and all committees and other structures within their portfolio” to submit to the VP finance and operations by Oct. 1.
The executive committee also must prepare a “strategic plan to cover a period of time of at least [three] years” to present to council for approval by July 31 each year. The plan is to be presented to students at the Annual General Meeting.
KSA executives receive a biweekly stipend of $1,273.69 and the president receives $1,373.69, approximately amounting to over $30,000 each year per executive and under $33,000 per year for the president.
Executives are responsible for training their replacement over the period of one month.
The governance, internal, student life, finance and operations, external affairs, university affairs, environmental sustainability, and social justice and equity committees are the current committees at the KSA that students can join without being an elected council member.
The Internal Committee makes recommendations to council on appointment of members on standing committees, recommends appointment of key positions such as the CRO, Speaker, and Executive Director. This committee also leads the development of the three year strategic plan. The committee must consist of five non-executive council members and three students (members at large).
The Governance Committee reviews the bylaws, Regulations, and other rules of the Association and provides recommendations to council. The committee must consist of seven non-executive council members and one student.
The University Affairs Committee is a platform for discussions related to KPU policies, reviews KSA policies related to academia, monitors the performance of the VP university affairs, and makes recommendations to council. The committee must consist of the VP university affairs, five non-executive council members, and three students.
The Student Life Committee makes recommendations to council on issues related to campus life and monitors the performance of the VP student life. The committee must have the VP student life, five non-executive council members, and three students.
The Finance and Operations Committee develops the budget in consultation with the VP finance and operations, recommends amendments to council on the budget or other issues related to student services operated by the KSA, and monitors the performance of the VP finance and operations. The committee must consist of the VP finance and operations, five non-executive council members, and three students.
The External Affairs Committee makes recommendations related to the KSA’s relationships with external organizations, selects delegates for external workshops or conferences, and monitors the performance of the VP external affairs. The committee must consist of the VP external affairs, five non-executive council members, and three students.
The Environmental Sustainability Committee works to “enhance the relationship between the KSA and external organizations” related to environmental sustainability, create sustainability policies and initiatives that “reflect good ethical practices,” and work closely with Sustainable KSA. Past meetings of the committee consisted of five non-executive council members and three students.
The Social Justice and Equity Committee ensures the KSA addresses the needs of minority groups on and off campus, addresses social justice needs through events and cooperating with external organizations, and focuses on reducing barriers for KPU students. Past meetings of the committee consisted of five non-executive council members and three students.
Any KPU student can be appointed for a term to start on Oct. 1 that ends the following year on Sept. 30. The term ends on April 1 for councillors appointed to a committee.
Students can sit on a maximum of two committees simultaneously, and students on a committee must submit proof of membership for each semester to the executive director for each semester they sit on a committee.
More details can be found on the KSA’s website kusa.ca.