At their meeting on Nov. 28, the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) chose to fill the Vice-President (VP) Internal position through re-appointment by Legislative Council instead of conducting a by-election in January. The decision is a result of previous VP Internal Kevin Zhou’s resignation from office on Nov. 16 due to mental health and academic concerns.
According to AUS President Maria Thomas, the VP Internal’s responsibilities are too important for the position to remain empty until January.
“We consulted with the AUS Legislative Council to decide what was best for the society,” Thomas said. “The Internal position interacts with departments directly, and many departments are dependent on them in order to hold events. It is [a] very difficult position to transition [into], so it is best to find someone as soon as possible.”
Zhou’s resignation follows the resignation of Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) VP External Marina Cupido on Oct. 10. As Cupido asserted, members of student government have notoriously-intense workloads, which, along with academics, can prove stressful.
“Overall, every [AUS executive] position is 10 to 15 hours per week, but some can spill over to 25 hours depending on the time of year and [current] events,” Thomas said.
The duty of public service may be enough to justify the workload for some executives, but monetary compensation is also a valued relief for some of the pressure they face.
“This year at AUS Legislative Council, all executives can get paid minimum wage for a maximum of 10 hours [per] week,” Thomas said. “While this doesn’t account for all the hours we put into the AUS, it still means a lot in terms of compensation. What the student body won’t be able to recognize is that it is not just about the hours put in; it’s about the emotional labour invested in wanting to see a positive change in our faculty.”
With two candidates running—Billy Kawasaki and Ashton Mathias—Kawasaki was elected the new VP Internal. Kawasaki was previously student executive assistant for AUS for three years as well as human resources coordinator at SSMU. Kawasaki clarified his goals in a brief statement for the Council.
“I want to sort out the room bookings, start [First-year Events, Academic, and Representative Council] FEARC as soon as possible, […] revamp the office and the lounge, and change the Jack Daniels Room [in the Arts Lounge] into a study room,” Kawasaki said.
Elections were also discussed more generally. While most department societies use online voting for council elections, Classics Student Association (CSA) VP External Sara Merker proposed a motion to allow CSA to hold elections internally. The change would mean that anyone running for a position would be required to attend a meeting in-person where the attendees would vote on behalf of the entire CSA. According to Merker, internal voting has been in CSA’s constitution for years and simply needed the AUS Council’s approval.
However, members debated the accessibility of in-person elections. Arts Representative Ana Paula Sanchez voiced her concern for students who may want to run but could not attend the meeting.
“There may be students [who] cannot come to a meeting,” Sánchéz said. “There’s a reason [that] most departments have switched to online voting [as] it’s really accessible to all students.”
AUS VP Equity Evren Sezgin also opposed the motion and questioned CSA’s motives for wanting internal elections.
“Having an online platform may accommodate the most amount of people,” Sezgin said. “If bureaucracy in AUS is the only reason [to have closed elections] I think it would be worth it to go through [with online voting].”
Philosophy Student Association VP External Affairs Coordinator Brytan Mendes proposed that attendees be able to vote on behalf of absentees. While Merker agreed to Mendes’ proposition, her motion was still denied in a majority vote by the Council.
Nov. 28 was AUS Legislative Council’s last meeting of 2018; the Council will reconvene Jan. 16.