Watch the live-feed from the SRA meeting on Sept. 29. The bulk of bylaw 5 discussion begins at 40:35. For the full video feed, click here.

After a tumultuous week in the world of student politics, the question of ancillary student fees has been put on hold.

The proposed amendments to a McMaster Students Union bylaw which would see five student groups go to triennial review by referendum did not pass at the meeting of the Student Representative Assembly on Sept. 29.

The amendments, proposed by the Finance Committee under the leadership of Commissioner Daniel D’Angela and with the support of VP Finance Jeff Doucet, sought to bring greater financial transparency and accountability to the set of non-MSU, non-university administered groups.

Each of the affected groups was given an opportunity to voice their concerns at the meeting.

“We think there are better, more effective ways to bring conversations with students, and to create more meaningful conversations,” said Kathryn Chan, co-president of Engineers Without Borders, to those present. She explained that her organization was interested in transparency, though not through what they considered time-consuming referendums.

“We think that [the referendums] come at a cost of decreased quality in the work that we do,” Chan said.

Miranda Clayton, president of the McMaster Marching Band, echoed Chan’s sentiment.

“While the changes have good intentions, they ultimately harm the groups involved,” she said.

The McMaster Marching Band was granted a student levy to the amount of $0.90 per student for the 2013-2014 academic year after winning a referendum in January 2013.

Although each of the five groups opposed proposed bylaw framework, the discussion highlighted that issues with the amendments were rooted in the drafting process.

While the groups felt a referendum was taxing, Doucet and the Finance Committee believed such a model was best for maintaining group autonomy.

“All these groups are very different, so…it’s hard to come up with a solution,” he explained. “But one thing they all had in common was going to referendum to get student money.”

Lexi Sproule, co-president of EWB, felt that the perceived lack of consultation was a miscommunication between groups.

“It’s a pretty classic misunderstanding between people making strategy decisions and people on the ground.”

After nearly two hours of discussion, the decision was made to send the proposal back to the finance committee for a more thorough consultation process.

D’Angela explained that the Finance Committee has now asked for policy suggestions from each group on “how to improve students democratic input into the fee” and a period of consultation is expected to follow.

 

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