A small but varied group turned up at the McMaster Association of Part-time Students annual general meeting on Feb. 5.
Attendees were anxious for answers about a months-long investigation by McMaster into allegations of misspending by the Association, which resulted in the departure of Sam Minniti, MAPS’ executive director, as well as a promise from the board of directors that they wouldn’t run for re-election.
Officials cross-checked student cards with a list of part-time students at the meeting room door. No press, no community members, no MSU employees – no non-members whatsoever – were permitted into the meeting.
But MSU president Siobhan Stewart, who is currently taking a course and is therefore a MAPS member, was allowed in.
“I think, for the most part, what was shared in closed session could have been in open session,” she said.
Matt van Dongen, who had been covering the MAPS saga for the Hamilton Spectator, was also inside the room.
“AGM is for student members only, so far,” said van Dongen from his Twitter account. “But as I have recently become a biz comm CCE student, MAPS officials have allowed me in.”
From inside, van Dongen reported that questions about Minniti drew cautious responses. Minniti was said to have legal representation, which limited what the outgoing board members could say.
Minniti, with whom MAPS had “ended its relationship” in January, was not at the meeting.
About 15 minutes into the event, van Dongen tweeted that part-time students in attendance were “poised to overrule [the] board on keeping [the] meeting private.”
But it wasn’t until almost two hours into the meeting, after outgoing president Jeanette Hunter had given a report and a new board had been elected, that observers were allowed to enter. And for the 20-minute open session portion of the meeting, observers were not allowed to speak.
By the time the AGM became public, there were only 30 people in the room, including representatives of multiple media organizations, observers and outgoing board members.
MAPS bylaws were not made available at the meeting.
The new MAPS board currently has eight members, all of whom were elected by acclamation at the meeting. When and how a new executive director will be hired is up to the new board.
Despite the overhaul, Stewart was encouraged by the new directors.
“I think it’s too soon to know what’s going to happen,” she said. “You have a new board that’s really green. There’s no one that’s returning … [but] the two or three that come up to me at the end and wanted my contact information, I have no question about their intentions.”