The downsizing sparks concerns of under-representation for marginalized groups
The board of directors of the Student Association of George Brown College (SA) is set to be cut in half.
At the board meeting on Jan. 14, a majority of board members voted in favour of downsizing and adopting of a new constitution and bylaws for the SA.
There are currently 22 members on the board, which will be reduced to 10 after the changes are made. This leaves just three executives and seven education centre representatives.
Four campus directors and six constituency representative positions will be eliminated.
Charles Wilson, the previous chief returning officer for past SA elections, was a consultant on the new structure.
He said that the SA currently has the “largest board size in Ontario” for student associations in applied arts and technical colleges.
“There’s a smaller board which means that the functioning will run a bit easier,” said Jasmyn St. Hilaire, the SA’s director of communications and internal, who voted in favour of the motion.
Garth Vernon, the LGBTQ student representative, opposed the cuts and expressed concern that marginalized student groups may not receive sufficient representation.
“For the discontinuation of campus directors and constituencies, I don’t see why that would happen. It doesn’t make any sense to me,” he said.
“Those positions are needed because people in those positions and people that fall under those titles don’t really have that much of a voice,” Vernon added.
St. Hilaire disagreed, saying that the Community Action Centre (CAC) is in place to cater to the needs of minority groups.
The CAC is a hub for five community groups, including Indigenous students, disabled students, international students, women/trans students and LGBTQ students.
There will also be a reduction in the number of signatures board members will need to run for election.
Executives will now need 30 signatures instead of 100. Meanwhile, the education centre representatives will need 10 signatures instead of 30.
Wilson noted that candidates running for the Mayor of Toronto need just 25 signatures.
Changes were also made to the election of the director of communications and internal and director of operations which will now be done in the fall of each year.
This is to allow for better transition, having two executives start their term in Jan. instead of May.
“That way they’re able to oversee the budget,” said St. Hilaire. “And they’re not coming in May when the budget needs to be passed by the end of the month.”
Some board members expressed concern regarding the lack of student participation in the SA’s operations and elections.
“I personally didn’t see any posters or any advertisements, there were no announcements, there was nothing to let students know that the elections were going on,” said Jolie Tadros, the health sciences representative.
“I think emails should be sent, I think campus directors or representatives should talk to classes or go around the school letting people know the elections are happening,” Tadros added.
“I would like to convey the message that elections will be coming in a few months. I recommend every student to know more about this”, said Vimal, the Casa Loma campus director.
“We are working collectively, and that is what I’d like to promote,” he said.
The revised constitution and bylaws will be brought to the SA’s Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 6 at 11 a.m. in the Kings Lounge at the St. James A Building.
Full-time students will have the final vote.