St. Thomas University Students’ Union Chair, Ryan Smith, began Thursday’s meeting by moving talks about the proposed structural changes to the union until the end of the meeting, believing it would be the longest discussion. In reality, it only lasted three and a half minutes.
Unlike the last major debate that lasted two and a half hours it seems the council has reached an agreement on the proposals. To no opposition STUSU President John Hoben moved that the council accept the drafts of the three documents outlining the proposed changes to be discussed at the town hall meeting on Jan. 15.
Among the proposed changes is hiring the vice presidents for administration, education and student life instead of electing them.
Hoben referenced to last year where he said divisions in the students’ union were barriers to accomplishing anything.
“It ended up being a fight over the political direction of the union for the entire year where at the end of the day nothing was accomplished,” Hoben said.
“We’re trying to resolve a situation like that where there is still a strong mechanism to keep the executive in check.”
Along with this change comes a loss in voting power for the vice-president positions. Hoben says if you’re not elected by the students you shouldn’t get a vote.
In the brief time Hoben spoke about the changes he pointed out an issue that remains to be resolved.
As it stands now, if for any reason the president must step down then the vice-president administration will take over. An election for the newly vacant position will then be held. With the new proposals this would mean having an unelected member become president when voting power has been revoked from the vice-presidents.
“I would think we need to have a real conversation about changing that,” Hoben said.
“I think its something I will likely raise as an amendment next week as something we can have a discussion about.”
On Jan. 15 the students’ union will hold a town hall meeting in Kinsella auditorium at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed changes. As of Friday the format wasn’t final, but according to Hoben they will be answering questions from both Twitter and the audience after presenting the changes. There will also be a chance for audience participation.
“Audience members also have that time to make suggestions and ask why we’re taking one route instead of another,” Hoben said.
Sean Thompson is a former political columnist for The Aquinian and served as chief returning officer in the winter of 2010. He says while he sees the merit of this system in preventing internal battles it’s not the only way it can be done.
“The first thing that popped into my mind when I heard about it in the news stories last fall was you could either add someone to the executive or take someone away from the executive, have an odd number of people on the executive,” Thompson said.
“In theory that way you don’t have the ties.”
Thompson says if he were in their position he doesn’t know whether or not he would vote on it. He also says if it were up to him he would like to see students have voting power on this issue.
“I’d kind of like to see it on a referendum ballot myself, have the general student body have their say on the changes that are being proposed,” he said.
“If the student’s union and the students’ executive council genuinely feels this is the way it should go then so be it.”
Hoben feels optimistic about support within the students’ union judging from discussions he’s had with members. After discussions at the town hall meeting future council meetings will dictate what will be voted on come Jan. 24.
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