What the constitutional referendum will change

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

Photo Credit: Zoe Archambault

With the voting period for the Brock University Students’ Union’s (BUSU) constitutional referendum officially underway, students should be aware of what voting “yes” on the referendum will result in as per the memorandum of understanding (Appendix 1).

According to BUSU, the changes that will be made by the referendum, if passed, are in an effort to comply with the Ontario Not-for-Profit Corporations Act (ONCA) which is expected to come into effect in early 2020. The changes made would allow BUSU to maintain its status as a non-profit corporation.

BUSU will rename their constitution to ‘by-laws’.

The name change is proposed to express that the new document contains the by-laws of BUSU. This is supposed to create another level of assurance that changes to the document will comply with the stipulations outlined in the act.

Accountability shifts from BUSAC to the board of directors.

As per the current BUSU constitution, “the officers of the corporation shall report their activities to the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council (BUSAC) at regularly scheduled meetings and shall be accountable to BUSAC.” With the enactment of the constitutional referendum, this accountability would shift to the board of directors.

The proposed by-laws outline, “the officers of the corporation shall report their activities to the board of directors at regularly scheduled meetings and shall be accountable to the board.

Board of directors empowered to create and amend board policies.

The board of directors would now be able to make, amend and repeal board policies that are not contrary to the proposed by-laws, the letters patent, or the ONCA, for the proper management of the corporation (BUSU).

These changes would only require an ordinary resolution by the board of directors and would not be subject to review from any other body as per Appendix 1.

Board of directors will be given power to make, amend or repeal any by-law except matters that require a Special Resolution of the members.

Any changes to the by-laws of the corporation will still have to be submitted to the members of the corporation at the next general meeting. Members may confirm, reject, repeal or amend such by-law by ordinary resolution.

Currently, this power is held by the Brock University Students’ Administrative Council (BUSAC) which is made up of 35 voting members. If passed, BUSAC will no longer maintain this power but will serve as more of an advisory council to the changes made by the board.

Board of directors capped at 7 members.

The Board of Directors shall be made up of seven voting members and one ex-officio non-voting member.

This raises potential concerns as with the enactment of the referendum, the board (which is 5 times smaller than BUSAC) would be able to make decisions that affect Brock’s student populous without the same level of representation as in years prior.

Members of the BUSU executive and board however continue to reinforce that student representation will remain a top priority if the referendum passes.

BUSAC councillors still elected but with less power.

As per Appendix 1, the other major changes that would occur within BUSAC is the loss of power to establish and administer organizations and committees that it may deem necessary for the effective organization and functioning of student services and representative government. The body would also cease to legislate the format and conduct of elections for office within BUSU.

BUSAC’s remaining responsibilities would include:

1)         Representing the needs and concerns of their constituents.

2)    Providing political direction and external priorities for the organization, the board and the executives.

3)     Reviewing and approving capital expenditures, club expenditure requests, and audited financial statements.

4)    Setting election, referendum, and general meeting dates.

5)     Ratifying election and referendum results.

6)     Reviewing the approved budget as passed by the board of directors.

7)        Filling temporary seats on the board of directors.

Legislative hierarchy removed from BUSU’s ‘by-laws’.

Article XVI on Legislative Hierarchy would be removed from the new by-laws.

The article currently states that a proposed legislation change must be presented to the appropriate decision-making body in the following format: a) the legislation as it exists (if any); b) the legislation as it will read if passed or amended. The exercise of by-law powers granted to BUSAC is currently effective only upon passage by a two-thirds majority of the voting members present at two consecutive regularly scheduled meetings of BUSAC.

‘By-laws’ still able to be amended via referendum.

If passed, enacted by-laws will not be unchangeable and can still be amended via referendum where the amendment is clearly identified and outlined

as a binding amendment.

As per article XI in Appendix 1, a Referendum shall be held on any matter when a petition stating the referendum question has been signed by seven per cent of the full time equivalent of the current membership of the corporation and presented to the speaker. BUSAC must approve the question that will appear on the ballot and supporting documentation.

Current Brock undergraduate students will all be eligible to vote via a ballot link that will be sent to student email accounts during the voting period of November 5-7.

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