Referendum: Bylaw Changes

Posted by: | January 21, 2010 | 2 Comments

Aside from the referendum question to modify bylaws regarding Student Court, a second question exists with Bylaw Changes. These changes are for the most part “housekeeping” changes and are intended to close loopholes and update the Bylaws to be legally compliant with the BC Society Act.

The heart of the changes are centered around altering the definition of Executives such that Council would be able to remove them from office through a 2/3 impeachment vote. Changes are also present which would bring the automatic removal of Councilors who miss too many meetings in line with the Society Act. In addition there are riders to grant the affiliated colleges (Regent, VST, etc.) voting seats on Council as well as a change to force any referenda which would alter fees to explicitly state that in the question.

Explaining it in plain English, after the jump.

Removal of Executives

The linchpin of the legal opinion that prevented Council from voting to impeach executives was that the current definition of Executives makes them inseparable from their role as a director of the Society. As the Society Act prevents removal of Directors except through a Special Resolution, to enable Council to remove rogue executives, it is necessary to ensure that removing an Executive would not remove them as a Director of the Society.

The following changes to the bylaws are proposed to solve this problem:

Bylaw 5(2)(a) shall be amended by adding the following sections:
(vi) Any Executive who has been elected following the removal of an individual as an executive officer by the Council.
(vii) Any former members of the Executive Committee who have been removed from their position as an executive officer by Council whose terms as Directors have not yet expired.

Bylaw 5 (3)(b)(ii) shall be amended to read:
The election shall constitute an election to a position as a Director of the Society, and a separate appointment by the membership to a position as an executive officer of Council. The Executive of Council shall take offices at the annual general meeting, and shall serve as Directors until the subsequent annual general meeting.
(1) The appointment as an executive officer may be revoked by Council by such means as established in the Bylaws. In the event that the appointment is revoked, the former executive officer shall not be entitled to compensation for expected remuneration.

Bylaw 5 (3) shall be amended by adding the following sections, and renumbering subsequent sections:
(d) An executive is not an employee of the Society, but rather an officer of Council. Council may set a rate of remuneration for services as an executive officer, and may establish duties that must be fulfilled in order to receive this remuneration, but this shall not be taken to construe that serving as an executive officer constitutes employment.

Bylaw 5 (3)(c)(i) shall be amended as follows, and renumbering subsequent sections:
i) A member of the Executive of Council may be removed from their position as an executive officer office upon:

  1. a Resolution of Council where such motion has passed by a Two-thirds (2/3) majority of the votes cast, including abstentions and blanks, PROVIDED that notice of such motion has been given at a Council meeting held at least seven (7) clear days prior to such proposed recall, which notice has been signed by twelve (12) voting members of Council;

i) A member of the Executive of Council may be removed from their position as an executive officer and as a Director upon:

  1. a referendum held in accordance with Bylaw 4; or
  2. a Special Resolution passed at a special general meeting held in accordance with Bylaw 3.

Affiliated College Membership

While students at UBC’s affiliated colleges (Regent College, Vancouver School of Theology, St. Marks College, Corpus Christi College) are fee-paying AMS members, they currently only have non-voting representative seats on AMS Council. The proposed changes include a clause to grant voting seats to representatives from all affiliated institutions with AMS members. This change is both reasonable and overdue, as it is in appropriate, at least in this writer’s view, to collect fees from students which lack any form of formal voting representation at the Council table.

One interesting thing to note, however, is that while existing Council seats specify “elected representatives” who are chosen “in accordance with the constitution of Constituency”, the new clause regarding colleges simply states that they shall have one representative each. It is understandable that there would be no reference to a constitution, as these bodies are not Constituencies, however it seems unusual to not require representatives to be elected.

Meeting Attendance

The below changes (in bold) are being made to the bylaw regarding automatic removal of Constituency reps who fail to regularly attend council. These changes are very much housekeeping in nature, and serve to bring this clause in line with the BC Society Act. They are necessary because the Society Act is very specific about how Directors of a Society can be removed which conflicts with the existing bylaw about missed meetings. However, the Act does allow for the consideration that a Director may become “in-eligable” to hold their seat. While this clause in the Society Act likely wasn’t intended to be used in this way, the Bylaw changes should technically be compliant.

Bylaw 5(2)(h) shall be amended to read:
A member of Council who is a constituency representative as defined in Bylaw 5(2)(a)(iv) shall be deemed in-eligible to continue to serve and lose his membership in Council if such member has missed five (5) regularly scheduled Council meetings during the School Year or if the constituency for which a member is a representative, by their own processes, deems them to be ineligible. A constituency representative shall, for the purposes of this provision, be considered absent even if he has appointed an alternate to attend in his place.

Bylaw 12: Honoraria

The Bylaw Changes simply state that Bylaw 12: Honorarium, will be struck. The initial author of the changes, Matthew Naylor, suggests that this Bylaw is unnecessary as “we’ve been ignoring [it] for years (15) because we already pay the exec more than the specified amount, and it doesn’t make any sense that it be in there. ” However, the Bylaw (shown below) also includes honoraria for the Ubyssey and SAC. It is unclear what will happen to these if the Bylaw is struck. As well, there is specific text in this Bylaw enabling Code and Council to dictate further Honoraria, and it is unclear if these powers will continue to exist if this Bylaw is removed.


  1. Honoraria shall be granted to the President and the Director of Finance in amounts equivalent to their tuition at the University during their term of office or two hundred dollars ($200), whichever is the greater sum.
  2. An honorarium in the amount of two hundred dollars ($200) shall be granted to the following persons:
    (a) each member of the Executive of Council, excluding the President and the Director of Finance;
    (b) the Ombudsperson; and
    (c) each voting member of SAC, excluding the Director of Administration.
  3. The staff of the Ubyssey shall receive an honorarium in the amount of one thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) to be divided amongst themselves as they see fit.
  4. Further honoraria may be granted to a member of the Society pursuant to the Code or from time to time by Resolution of Council.
  5. Where possible, the above honoraria shall be paid in two instalments, one at the end of November, and the other at the end of January. In the case of an Executive member of Council, a member of SAC, the Ombudsperson or any other person receiving an honorarium from the Society resigning or being removed from office, or for any reason being unable to complete his term of office, the honorarium shall be paid on the basis of twenty-five dollars ($25) per month of service.

Fee Referendum Requirements

This change, below, was not present on the original Bylaw Change petition question, but was brought to the attention of Council by the ever-observant Dr. Darren Peets (former AMS Councilor, BoG rep, and fire hydrant trainer). Specifically, Peets was concerned that there exists a loophole in the current bylaws which could enable a referendum with fee change implications to be worded in a way that would obscure the nature of the fee change. (i.e. joining an outside organization which has fee requirements, or present as part of an attached reference document accompanying a question) With the new wording, it would ensure that all fee changes be explicitly stated in the referendum question, thus helping to make sure fees can not be ‘snuck past’ the student body.

*Note: This change is currently suspiciously absent from the AMS Elections Referendum page. As Council approved this change, the assumption is that its abscence is an oversight which will be corrected shortly.

Bylaw 4 shall be amended to include the following section, and renumbering of subsequent sections:

  1. A referendum shall not be put to or acted upon by the Society if doing so would cause a change in fees, unless such proposed fee, change to existing fees, and/or alteration to the rate of change of fees is clearly stated in the referendum question.


2 Comments so far

  1. Peter on January 21, 2010 9:03 pm

    Under meeting attendance, I would like to note that the continued inclusion of

    “A constituency representative shall, for the purposes of this provision, be considered absent even if he has appointed an alternate to attend in his place.”

    is silly. While I understand the spirit of the idea, I don’t think it actually accomplishes any real goal. It also potentially discriminates against constituencies who do not appoint a specific AMS representative.

    I might, however, be biased.

  2. Andrew Carne on January 24, 2010 11:52 am

    I’m of a mixed mind about that particular clause. While it does seem a bit silly, at the same time it is rather important for Councilors to be relatively consistent around the table. (My take on this being that ‘alternate’ is intended to mean ‘proxy’, although perhaps my reading is wrong)

    From my experience at least, I find it takes quite a few meetings to build up the necessary background knowledge and confidence to feel comfortable contributing to a high degree in the discussions and debates around the table. If different proxies are being appointed every week, then it impairs Council’s ability to function effectively, as vast amounts of time will have to be spent providing background information and educating the new representatives.

    If a Councilor is no longer interested in serving, they should be able to find a replacement to permanently appoint, which I believe would no longer be subject to this provision.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet