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Emergency URSU meeting held

Legitimacy of the in camera meeting is in question

Though 12 members were initially present quorum was broken and the meeting should have ended. / Brett Nielsen
Though 12 members were initially present quorum was broken and the meeting should have ended. / Brett Nielsen

On Jan. 14, the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) held an emergency board meeting less than five minutes after the regularly scheduled meeting reported last week. This is not a common occurrence. In the end, social work director Matt Jacobs says, the meeting lasted “one hour and eight minutes” on top of a “two-hour-long regular meeting.”

Emergency meetings, or special meetings, concern issues that need to be dealt with before the next regular meeting.

According to members present, after the regular meeting adjourned, many of the members of the board and half of the executives had packed up to go home. Some members stayed behind, most unaware of what would happen. About five minutes after the regular meeting adjourned, VP external relations Daniella Zemlak expressed to the board chair that she wished to call an emergency board meeting. The meeting was called to discuss what Francophone students’ director Grayson Beaudin vaguely described as “important issues.” When Beaudin pressed for a more concrete answer, he was told the meeting would be held “in camera” and as such the details could not be discussed but that it was “super important.” The Carillon asked multiple attendees why the meeting was held and no answer was received.

The regularly scheduled meeting had already included an in camera portion which caused Beaudin and Jacobs to question why it had not been brought up in the regular meeting. Vice president of student affairs Luanne Drake stated that, “The chair [Kyle Addison] believed that the subject matter didn’t fit within the regular in camera session.” According to Robert’s Rules of Order, the guide used for conducting URSU meetings, an emergency meeting can only be called if notice is given. “When the meeting is called, then it must list the reason for the meeting and also the time and place. This information must also be provided to each member of the group.”

No such notice was given.

Notably, President Devon Peters and VP operation and finance Minsoo Cho were not present at the calling of the meeting. At this point, Peters entered the room and participated in the meeting. However, “The intent was definitely not to leave anyone out” according to Jacobs. Cho also became involved in the proceedings.

Robert’s Rules of Order sets aside confidential in camera sessions to discuss “internal matters,” such as the hiring of employees and discussions of finances and discussions on members of the board that pose liabilities if made public. The rules also state, “Before the presiding officer calls a meeting to order, it is his duty to determine that a quorum is present.” It is unclear whether this second stipulation was reached. 12 URSU members were in attendance at the beginning of the meeting, 11 are needed to meet quorum.

“I did not consent to the meeting, which means the meeting may not have been able to take place,” said Beaudin. He also noted that, “in showing I was not in support of the meeting, the chair assumed I was already well informed on the topic of the meeting and discredited me in front of the other board members.”

During the meeting, Beaudin and Jacobs stepped outside.

“I didn’t feel comfortable with what was being said so me and a few others stepped outside the boardroom,” said Beaudin.

Jacobs and Beaudin left hoping that leaving would break quorum and force the meeting to stop. However, after several minutes, board chair Kyle Addison failed to acknowledge that quorum was broken, at which point Beaudin eventually reentered the room saying, “if something was going to be said, I preferred that I was there to hear it.”

Since the meeting was in camera, the contents of the meeting remain unclear, for now. However, a few things are certain: an in camera emergency meeting was called after a regularly scheduled board meeting that included an in camera portion, President Devon Peters was not originally aware of the meeting, and quorum is believed to have been broken, raising questions on the legitimacy of the meeting.

About Derek Cameron