URSU money talks, except in camera
Tensions between URSU executive and board culminate in president insisting that the science director “should quit”
Tyler Taylor of the investment firm Scotia McLeod delivered a presentation to the Jan. 31 board meeting, presenting the board with financial documents assessing their current mutual fund investments. How exciting!
The students’ union assets are largely liquid, but a lot of money – – is tied up in mutual funds, and Scotia McLeod made a pitch to take management of that fund over from URSU’s current portfolio managers. Taylor also mentioned that the board should consider coming up with a mandated investment policy, in order to provide clear lines of sight for investment decisions and basically prevent the entire board from being on the hook should a decision go south.
After Taylor concluded his presentation, URSU general manager Mike Staines confirmed to the board that this was a large part of bringing in Scotia McLeod. As it stands, Staines is essentially in charge of investments, but outside of that he has very few guidelines or limitations for investment. A board-drafted policy would keep his decision-making within certain boundaries – how much to invest in equity funds as opposed to fixed-income funds, for example.
The board will likely tender bids for its mutual fund sometime in the near future; we’ll keep you posted on what they decide.
One of the executive members is taking a leave of absence; in order to discuss both that leave of absence and a motion on the table to distribute said executive’s compensation among the other executive members for a one-month period, the board went in camera.
What we can report: the motion in question was struck down by the board, and the members of the executive present at the meeting – Peterson, VP finance Haanim Nur, and VP external Paige Kezima – noted their abstentions from the vote.
Assorted things! URSU will be purchasing new photocopiers at a cost of roughly $17,000, to replace the copiers currently in the URSU computer lab in Riddell Centre. According to Staines, these should pay for themselves within four years, and the cost to maintain the current decade-old copiers is increasing. The board voted to get some new ones by piggybacking on the U of R’s contract.
The chief returning officer for the rapidly approaching (March 21!) URSU general election will apparently be Heather McIntyre. According to Peterson, McIntyre, who ran in the last municipal election and attempted to secure the provincial NDP nomination for Regina South in 2010, helped the executive review URSU’s policy manual last term.
Women’s director Kaytlyn Barber asked why URSU hadn’t posted the CRO position and opened it up for applicants. According to Peterson, the timeframe of the election necessitated finding a CRO immediately, as the dates of the election were set in advance and the nomination period is coming up very soon. Seemingly satisfied with this answer, the board voted to accept McIntyre as CRO.
Speaking of the women’s director, Barber and women’s centre director Jill Arnott have been working to plan an event for the vernal equinox; they’ll be bringing in Miriam Simos, an activist who works under the name Starhawk, to put on free activism workshops and deliver a lecture on environmentalism. They’re asking URSU to contribute $1,000 to the event; the board will be voting on it next meeting, so more on that then.
Also – toward the end of the meeting, Peterson derailed Campion director Jesse Leontowicz’s report in order to agitatedly inform the board that he expected to see them all at the Feb. 1 Day of Action. Soon, he was railing against absent science director Shayna Glass, who Peterson claims has failed to fulfill her obligations to the electoral reform committee. He added that Glass had tweeted on Jan. 27 that she “[does] not want to be around for this all out protest thing,” then insisted that she should resign.
U of R student and constant URSU board meeting attendee Bart Soroka tweeted that Peterson was “talking at a faster rate than his average” and added, “Holy fuck I wish you could have all seen that.”
So do I; this column has more than once alluded to tensions between the executive and board, and Peterson’s outburst was the most public display of aggravation between the two parties so far this year. Though the board meeting was otherwise largely respectful, it’s clear that there’s still some dysfunction within the organization.
We’re running out of inches here and it’s close to deadline, so we haven’t contacted Glass yet for any kind of response, but we’ll update this story via Twitter when we get one.
And speaking of Twitter – the URSU annual general meeting is Wednesday, Feb. 8, at noon. While you should definitely try to show up, if you’re unable to make it, we’ll be livetweeting the whole thing, so follow @the_carillon on Twitter to watch as we try to squeeze Lana Del Rey jokes into discussion about the students’ union’s financial reports.