Entire semester of meeting minutes not published by URSU 

0
1084
You, as a student, have a right to public documents. lee lim

195 days, and still no explanation

From July 6, 2022, until January 16, 2023, no update of general meeting minutes was made to the URSU meeting minutes website page. 

According to Article VI: Powers and Duties of the Board of Direction in the URSU Constitution, Notion (7) states “The Board of Directors shall keep a “Minutes Book” of all general and board meetings. This book shall be updated on a continuing basis and all minutes must be published on the URSU website within fourteen days after approval of the minutes by the Board of Directors.” 

On January 10, 2023, the Carillon sent an email to URSU with a request that they publish their meeting minutes and provide a statement to the paper addressing why six months had passed without an update.

On January 16, 2023, around 11 a.m., the Carillon received confirmation that the meeting minutes had been uploaded to the URSU website. Bronwyn Heerspink, President of the University of Regina Politics and International Studies Students’ Association, said it should be a “high priority” for any government to publish general meeting minutes.   

“I think it is significantly important,” said Heerspink. “Representative bodies need to be representative, or representing their students, and students need to be able to identify that their concerns are being addressed.” 

Access to public records is a right to students, in part so that they can see what grievances are being brought to the board of directors and, furthermore, if these grievances are being addressed. There should be an “air of openness in every governing institution,” according to Heerspink.  

“URSU has a lot of responsibilities, [URSU’s] responsible to the students who elected them,” she added.  

Lack of transparency between government and the public can result in mistrust or lack of participation in political practices. Only 7.4 per cent of students voted in the 2022 URSU general election. Heerspink said the single digit turnout rates should be a concern, and low turnout rates are a reflection of a lack of transparency.   

“A lot of it is really shallow and surface level,” said Heerspink. “You walk by the Riddell Centre, and there’s these nefarious [executive] posters staring down at you. I think having something that shows your record, like minutes, is more valuable than these kinds of frivolous shows of ‘Here’s who URSU is.’ Tell us who you actually are with the work that you’re actually doing.”  

Heerspink explained that she does not think URSU is acting “nefarious” by not posting meeting minutes, but questions if there is something in the minutes package that the government does not want students to see.  

In Article VI of the URSU Constitution, Notion (8) states “The Board of Directors shall ensure that the books and records of the Students’ Union are accurate.” Heerspink identifies the qualities of a successful public document as clearness and accessibility. It may be the first time students have engaged with public documents which makes it even more important for them to be easy to understand, and easy to access. These documents should give students clear instructions on how to apply for grants or student emergency funding, without risk of rejection due to an application filled out incorrectly.  

Student unions provide an opportunity for students to be introduced to politics, something Heerspink recommends. Heerspink explained reading meeting minutes is a good way for students to become more comfortable with politics and ask questions to understand the commitment that comes along with running in an election or campaigning.  

“The fact that [meeting minutes] are not available is troubling for the people who are wanting to get involved because it creates a barrier for them,” said Heerspink.   

While the meeting minutes are now available as requested (and as per their constitution), at the time of writing the Carillon has yet to receive a statement from URSU on why it took six months for them to publish these minutes.

Tags65

Comments are closed.