Lights. In camera. Election?

By Karen Nickel
Dialog Reporter

Story updated Feb. 26, 2013

Politics is a stage. Politicians are actors and we, the voters, are not the audience; instead they are performing for each other – this includes student politicians.

Photo: Henning Mühlinghaus / Creative Commons

Photo: Henning Mühlinghaus / Creative Commons

The Student Association’s (SA) board of directors meeting on Feb. 13 began with an acknowledgement of Mississauga of New Credit First Nation’s territory. Two things on the agenda got my attention; First, the donor contract with the George Brown College Foundation (from the recent $25 student levy); and secondly, election exemptions for two board members.

On the donor contract issue, members were given a financial sheet (with an impossibly small font size) showing how the multi-million dollar, ten-year contract is going to be distributed: 75 per cent goes to bursaries, awards and scholarships; and 25 per cent towards capital projects proposed by the SA.

Mohammed Ali Aumeer, the director of Education and Equity, mentioned a single-parent bursary among other awards.
The board also clarified that board members were students and are eligible for bursaries or awards.

A vote was called to accept the donor contract as presented. A tired, slightly cranky, Jeremy Salter, who was chairing the meeting, took issue with the fact that not everyone had seen the contract, let alone read it. Chiding the board, Salter said, “this means up to six million dollars over 10 years. I think you are responsible for reading this agreement.” The motion was then tabled to an “emergency board meeting” happening on Feb. 20; giving board members time to read the document before formally accepting it.

The other purpose of the emergency meeting was to hear appeals from candidates who were disqualified for not having a C+ GPA or completing a semester as a full time student in the past eight months.

According to Evan Murray, the chief returning officer, exemptions were granted by the board to: Mohammad Ali Aumeer, running for director of Education and Equity; Aaron (Erin) Holder, running for St. James campus director; Jordan Sarracini, running for St. James campus director; Vinh An Tran, running for Business Educational Centre Rep.; Harmandeep Singh Sardar, running for director of Internal Affairs; and Avanish Agarwal, running for Hospitality and Culinary Arts Educational Centre Rep.

Alistair Courtney, the incumbent director of Public Relations was the sole candidate whose appeal was rejected by the board.

“My opinion as a current full-time student is I find it hard that everybody was exempted except me. Being a student I feel there’s something wrong with that” said Courtney to The Dialog.

When asked whether the emergency meeting would be public or not. Salter said it would probably be “in camera”. He was right.

This board is often “in camera” – they went “in camera” at the Feb. 13 meeting too. In camera means only board members and those people they allow can stay during the meeting. It’s also called a “behind closed doors” meeting, but that doesn’t sound as good. The public is not welcome; which brings me back to the beginning. Politicians, even student ones, are actors performing, not for us but for each other.

Lights. In camera. Election?


With files from Mick Sweetman


Lights. In camera. Election?