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UPDATED: Recording banned at URSU meetings

 

URSU forbids journalists recording its Board of Director meetings

Seems silly we aren’t allowed to use these to better report on student affairs. / Michael Chmielewski
Seems silly we aren’t allowed to use these to better report on student affairs. / Michael Chmielewski

***Updated Nov. 3: URSU has put the minutes from their bi-weekly meetings online in accordance with its constitution***

As of Nov. 2 the Board of Director minutes were published on the URSU website. This follows the URSU constitution, which as stated below, says “all minutes must be published on the URSU website and in hard copy within fourteen days.” The minutes were published after this article ran, and because of it, presumably. 


 

The Carillon has been denied the ability to record during the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) board of directors meetings this year.

According to URSU’s constitution, the board upholds URSU’s principles, legislates and manages its by-laws and fiscal policy, while administrating its affairs, amongst other duties. The democratically elected board represents all students who are divided into various constituencies.

The URSU board meets every two weeks this semester.

These are the students’ representatives that manage the policy direction and finances of the union, funded through student fees. For example of what the board does, see the latest Minutemen column.

There is no policy on whether or not the Carillon can record the meetings. Current URSU board chair Kyle Addison explained that “As the board chair is responsible for the conduct and environment of URSU board of director’s meetings, this is a decision that has historically been, and currently is, at the discretion of the chair.”

Addison also explained the rationale behind banning recording at the meeting.

“Dating back more than 5 years, the University of Regina board of director’s meetings have not been recorded by any third party.  The reason for this is that, in my experience, the recording of a board meeting both sacrifices the comfort of the directors, and has a negative impact on meeting participation. Meeting participation is essential for directors to fulfill their fiduciary responsibility to the organization.”

“With the interest of increasing accountability,” Addison added, “I have made a standing decision to accommodate any interested media to be present at all URSU board meetings.  In terms of journalistic accuracy, I have seen first hand that the Carillon has quality, talented journalists who are capable of manually documenting the news they are covering.”

This is true but the advantages to recording meetings are numerous. Firstly, recording for accuracy is standard practice in the field of journalism today. Recording would only make the Carillon more accurate.

Also, one wonders what kinds of comforts directors sacrifice when the press records the happenings and debates of the public meetings that affect how student money is spent. The job of directors is not to be comfortable, but to represent students and speak truthfully about their constituencies.

A recording should make no difference for the truth. The Carillon also understands that some things cannot be recorded, which is why board meetings can go “in-camera.” Furthermore, we report everything as accurately as possible, and we would never haphazardly publish quotes from directors.

Last year, when the Carillon did not cover URSU board meetings, the meetings had such awful attendance that they were delayed for weeks, along with motions affecting students.

In February 2014, the Carillon reported on directors’ absenteeism and its effect on the union, which led to policy change at the next URSU AGM.

Lastly, if the Carillon had not started reporting on the meetings this year, the average students would have no way of knowing what their union is doing. As the Carillon went to press Oct. 28, URSU hasn’t posted any board minutes online since the July 29 meeting, in direct contradiction of their constitution, which mandates that “all minutes must be published on the URSU website and in hard copy within fourteen days.”

The last URSU meetings were Oct. 22, Oct. 12, and Sept. 24.

About Michael Chmielewski

I am a 4th political science student who loves reading, writing, studying languages, reporting, playing music (metal, if you got it), conversation, amongst many other eclectic interests. Proud to be in my second year as Editor-in-Chief of the Carillon, and even more proud of the amazing staff that I work with. Festina Lente.