Re: UMSU begins CFS review
I find Christian Pierce’s comments within the article “UMSU begins review of CFS relationship” disturbing on many fronts. UMSU is a membership-based organization, which is supposed to be democratic in its decision-making, open to encourage participation, accountable, and of course, transparent in its activities. But what Pierce is saying—that all committees are closed unless the chair says otherwise—goes against these basic principles, and to me says a lot about his own biases to the purpose and outcome of this committee. That’s fine if that’s his personal belief and how he wants to run the organization, but what do the UMSU bylaws (the legally binding written rules for conduct of the organization) say about this sort of thing?
UMSU bylaws define the rules on standing and ad hoc committees: bylaw 1200 – 18 states that “Standing Committee Meetings shall be open to the Members of the Union unless the Standing Committee determines to have an in camera or closed session” and further down in bylaw 1300 it makes it clear that “References to ‘Standing Committees’ in bylaw 1200 should be taken to refer also to ad hoc committees for the purposes of this clause.” This means that all committees of UMSU are open for members to attend, and can only go into a closed or in camera session for parts of a meeting with committee approval. Either Pierce is ignorant to the organization’s own bylaws, or he is intentionally misleading students to further the executive’s agenda to get out of the CFS and all CFS services, which has been evident already with the Health and Dental Plan switch without council approval and the deliberate destruction of student day-timers printed through a service of the CFS. If that’s their plan, they should just be honest and open about it and stop this ad hoc committee, especially as it meets in secrecy behind closed doors.
Re: UMSU financial reports
The financial management of UMSU this year sounds like a mix of what’s going on at Winnipeg’s City Hall with the fire hall land swap deals and Canada’s Senate scandals, and to me, opens up a lot of important questions that need to be answered. We are talking about students’ money here, and a lot of it—at least the near $150,000 that we know of—has been spent on a two-day party for a couple thousand people, many of whom were likely not even UMSU fee-paying members. Almost $150,000 lost out of a discretionary budget of $209,500 is pretty significant, and goes to show the financial ineptitude of this year’s executive. Where’s the accountability here?
How did a member of last year’s executive get the job of organizing this large-scale, high-cost, and high-risk event? Was there a request for a proposal process to find the best event organizer? How much money was provided to Justin Paquin and Paquin Entertainment? How much was provided for Paquin to hire other friends of the executive to organize and run the event? Why was council not involved in this process, or at least informed, and who exactly signed the contract on behalf of UMSU? What else are students not being told?
I find it extra concerning that the vice-president internal, Amanda McMullin, who is in charge of the finances of the union, does not seem to understand that alleged “savings” from a switch in the Health and Dental Plan are not actual savings to UMSU’s operating budget. A fund such as that for the Health and Dental Plan is a restricted fund, belonging to and used to provide the students’ with health and dental coverage. It is completely separate from the operating budget of the union, so it is irrelevant to even mention it in reference to how the executive is working to make up for their mismanagement of our money.