On Nov. 8, the Post-Graduate Student Society (PGSS) held both its November council meeting and general assembly (GA) at Thomson House. As the GA failed to reach quorum—which is one per cent of PGSS members, or 96 students—no motions could be passed and all items on the agenda were for consultation and discussion purposes only.
The November council was led by Nora Delahaye, the Council Speaker, who explained the new submission guidelines for agenda items. Instead of agenda items being submitted on the Wednesday before the meeting, the new deadline would be the preceding Monday, as the extra time is needed to produce French copies of documents in compliance with Bill 96.
Next, the speaker presented proposals for the library improvement fund, which were approved. External Affairs Officer Ansley Gnanapragasam explained what the two projects, which total over $12,000, entail for the Islamic Studies and Osler Libraries.
“These two projects were submitted last year and sent to the library asking for the quote. We received the quote this year, reviewed it, and we found it reasonable,” Gnanapragasam explained. “[They] are more or less new ergonomic desks and chairs for the two libraries.”
PGSS Secretary General Satish Kumar Tumulu then touched on the motion regarding a PGSS response to Quebec’s proposed tuition hikes. The motion outlined potential actions PGSS could take, including an official statement, endorsement of politicians opposing the hikes, support for protests and demonstrations, and an email template for PGSS members to express their disapproval to provincial politicians. The motion was approved.
The council briefly pivoted to a call for candidates to fill vacancies for representatives on the appointment board before adjourning a few minutes past 6 p.m.
After a half-hour break, the GA began. The first dozen minutes were spent trying to reach quorum by urging people to join the Slido, an online voting platform. However, the efforts proved to be unsuccessful. As a result, it was not possible to vote on motions and the purpose of the meeting was therefore consultative; voting will take place at the winter GA on Feb. 7, provided quorum is reached.
The question period was the night’s greatest speaker-audience engagement. In response to a question regarding how PGSS intends to achieve quorum at the winter GA, the Secretary General acknowledged the lack of success in achieving quorum since the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If [each] counselor can bring one extra person then we have a quorum. Right now we have 75 people in both in hybrid and in person,” Tumulu said. “We just need 21 more people to get quorum. It’s not that hard.”
Tumulu and Gnanapragasam mentioned that if all 122 council members attended, quorum would easily be reached. Various attendees then got up to offer suggestions on how to increase attendance and reach quorum.
David Gallacher, a third year PhD candidate in physics, referenced his own department’s success in achieving quorum at meetings.
“The most effective thing we did was just to go out and invite people in person, like walk around to all the offices, introduce ourselves and invite them to [our] GA,” Gallacher said. “One thing we found is that just sending more and more emails is increasingly less effective. Adding more emails is worse than having fewer emails.”
Other members insisted that the email communication be more direct and easy-to-understand, straying away from acronyms to lower the knowledge barrier and briefly explaining what can be achieved at PGSS meetings. One member even suggested that draws and raffles be used as a way to lure more participation. After acknowledging that the suggestions will be taken into account, the Secretary General dismissed the meeting a few minutes before 7 p.m.
Moment of the meeting:
A member commented on the phrasing of Chapter 9, Section 4 of the Society Activities Manual, about how former executives “cannot run for election the same year and the following year,” pointing out that it would mean that they could run during either the current or following year but could only not run for both. After discussion, it was decided the word “and” will be substituted for “or”.
“Please call your friends so we have quorum.” — Delahaye, urging the crowd to help bring the GA to quorum.