The Science Undergraduate Society (SUS) convened on Feb. 5 for their first General Assembly (GA) of the Winter 2020 semester. While the majority of the executive team and representatives from the various departmental groups were in attendance, the meeting did not reach quorum for a GA, with only seven constituents present.
Given the low turnout, gallery member Asa Kohn, U2 Science, inquired if SUS would plan another General Assembly this semester. SUS President Marjan Ghaz, responded by pointing out that GAs typically do not have high turnout. Despite this, Kohn urged the council to consider holding another one before the end of the school year.
“All of [the] miscommunications and errors [lead] to a very low turnout of the GA,” Kohn said. “I hope the executives will consider holding another one, so that we, as constituents, can actually participate in democracy.”
During the meeting, motions to renew many of the SUS-backed fees were passed unanimously. This included the Science Undergraduate Research Awards, the SUS Ambassador Fund, and the SUS Work Study Program.
Scheduled last was the motion for the approval of the timeline of the Winter 2020 SUS Election. At this point, the VP External for the Bachelor of Arts and Science Integrative Council (BASiC), Alexandra Millar, noted the recent motion put forward in the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) Legislative Council on extending the campaign period to include the election days.
“This is something that was […] brought up at the AUS last week about the campaign period,” Millar said. “A lot of our constituents do not interact with our campaign material […] during the elections calendar. There’s talk of extending the campaign period during the polling sessions so that, for our constituents that do not really know [the candidates], can […] check people’s Facebook pages.”
Vice-President of the Physiology Undergraduate League of Students (PULS) Jamie Halperin was hesitant to introduce this policy during the SUS elections due to possible misconceptions by the student body.
“I personally find it really important to end the campaign period before voting,” Halperin said. “With Facebook events still active [during voting], people would say, ‘oh this candidate has 1200 people in there while this person only has 400’, or that ‘this candidate shared a bomb meme’. I just find that [by] having that campaign ending with the voting page, you get to [only] see each platform [and the] constituency can still reach [out] for more information. I think [that is] the purest form of democracy that we can have in student government.”
Speaker of the Council Haoyi Qiu reminded the gallery that the motion was for the dates of the election timeline rather than amendments regarding advertising during the campaign period. With no demands to extend the debating period, the dates were subsequently passed and the meeting was adjourned.
The email announcing the GA was sent out on the night of Jan. 22, less than an hour before the supposed deadline to submit motions to the Speaker. According to the Speaker Qiu, they were still accepting proposals until the following Monday. The reasons for the delayed announcement were unknown due to the absence of the VP Communications, Karim Almallakh, but factors suggested by the Executive Administrator, Sydney Merritt, were the difficulty in booking a larger room for such events.
“Thank you for all your patience, I know it’s difficult to deal with a change of leadership so late in the year. I have my contact info listed, as well as my office hours […] so please do reach out on any questions about SUS you may have.” – President Marjan Ghazi, addressing the recent change in leadership following the resignation of former President Dylan Wong in December.