OPIRG AGM gets heated

On Oct.19, the Brock wing of OPIRG held its AGM at the OPIRG Infoshop in downtown St. Catharines. The meeting was attended by a number of Brock students as well as community members. In comparison to the recent BUSU AGM, which passed with no contentious issues arising from the floor, the OPIRG AGM saw much controversy and discussion on a number of current issues.
The Annual General Meeting (AGM), is a meeting held once a year, and is open for all Brock students to attend. The main business of the meeting is to elect the organization’s Board of Directors and for the outgoing Board to present its annual general report. A period for open questions to the Board is also a part of the agenda.
Shortly before the meeting officially convened, an announcement was made regarding the elections to Board of Directors. There were originally 12 candidates who submitted nomination packages for a seat on the nine member body; however, not all the candidates were in attendance at the meeting. Taking this into consideration, it was decided by the organizers of the AGM that only those seven nominees who were present would be eligible to stand for election.
For a Board with nine available seats, this meant that the election would instead be an acclamation.
The Brock Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) 2012 AGM officially began with the recently acclaimed Board members each making an introductory statement, followed by answering any questions posed by students and members in attendance.
The process began relatively smoothly, with several new Board members introducing themselves as well as answering friendly questions dealing with their respective social justice experience.
This cordial tone from the assembly took a very different turn for one new Board member.
Many students and community members had critical questions and comments for newly acclaimed Board member Christopher Yendt, mainly surrounding his actions as a member of the BUSU Board of Directors in regards to the Brock Student Sexual Violence Support Center referendum.
Yendt was a part of a recent unanimous decision during the Oct. 5 meeting of the BUSU Board of Directors that required the Brock Student Sexual Violence Support Center referendum team to pay for a portion of the administration costs associated with the running of the election, as per sec. 30 of BUSU by-law 675.
The grievances expressed by those in the audience fell into two major categories: one, those questioning Yendt’s motives and commitment to improving OPIRG given his lack of previous involvement within the organization; and two, those interested in Yendt justifying his vote on the issue of referendum funding during the Oct.5 BUSU Board meeting.
Yendt took as many questions as time allo and attempted to answer all in a thoughtful and professional manner.
After the rest of the new Board members introduced themselves there was a 30 minute dinner break followed by the presentation of the annual general report given by the outgoing Board.
The annual general report outlined the operations and activities of OPIRG during the last school year. The report included a brief overview of the organization’s various action groups and addressed some questions from the floor dealing with structural and administrative issues that occurred during the 2011-2012 school year.
From the discussions that took place during the OPIRG AGM, it is clear that there is still some lingering dissatisfaction from many of those involved with OPIRG surrounding the financing of the Brock Student Sexual Violence Support Center referendum.
No doubt, the BUSU/OPIRG connection is one bridge that needs mending.

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