The Governance Committee presented a complete overhaul of the current BUSAC structure to the rest of council which was met with much debate, though the bylaw changes passed their first reading.
The Brock University Students’ Administrative Council (BUSAC) met again for the first time in 2016 on Jan. 14 and several bylaw changes were on the agenda. The most contentious was Bylaw 200, known as the BUSAC Bylaw. This bylaw regulates the internal structure of BUSAC – how many voting and non-voting seats there are, the qualifications and responsibilities of councillors, and when council is to meet.
Currently, there are a total of 50 seats, 45 of which are voting. Brock has one of the largest councils among Canadian universities, especially proportionally to its size. The concern that was raised by the Governance Committee was that the councillors, currently elected as faculty representatives, do not effectively represent their respective faculties.
“We believe that the roles of each councillor are not clarified,” said Shanza Hashmi, who presented the bylaw changes on behalf of the Governance Committee. “I think that we vote as ourselves, not our councillor seats.”
The changes that the Governance Committee proposed included reducing the overall number of seats to 36 and the number of voting seats to 31. As well, there will be only one faculty representative elected for each faculty. Moreover, 15 ‘at-large’ seats would be added, for which any student from any faculty could run. It was also proposed that the five at-large councillors elected with the highest number of votes be given two-year terms and the other ten just a one-year term.
“I think the [voting] race would be more competitive and voter turnout would be greater,” said Hashmi.
Some concerns that were brought up against the proposed structure change were that a single faculty representative would not be able to speak on behalf of all the students in the faculty. Some councillors argued that the responsibility and pressure would be too great, while others countered that it would be easier for students to direct their faculty-related concerns to just one person.
Geoffrey Verrier, who is currently the sole representative of the Faculty of the Humanities, although there should be four, argued that one representative is not an accurate reflection of an entire faculty.
“The at-large positions would take away from the diversity of a faculty,” Verrier said.
Another concern was that the at-large positions were not clarified enough and if all students could run for them, there could be a very unfair and unbalanced representation of the student community at BUSAC. Some councillors mentioned that certain students, such as Political Science majors, are more actively involved and so the at-large positions could all be taken up by a certain denomination.
The BUSAC Bylaw, with all its changes, effectively passed its first reading. It will be brought back before the council at the next meeting on Jan. 27 for a second reading. If it passes again, the new changes pass into the bylaw.
However, the bylaw does not state when these changes will be implemented and so they might not actually affect the BUSAC structure until the 2017/2018 academic year.
To view BrockTV’s live feed of the entire BUSAC meeting, visit http://livestream.com/Brocktvlive/events/4266446