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Student’s Council looks for new ways to fill council vacancies after removing chair of nominating committee

After refusing to step down, past chair of nominating committee was removed from their position

To help encourage new councillors to join Students’ Council, the body has a new bill to help fill vacancies. 

The bill was brought forward after the original chair of Students’ Council’s nominating committee had been removed from their position due to a lack of initiative to fill vacant council positions. 

After Students’ Council by-elections, there were nine councillor positions open, with faculties such as pharmacy and law without councillor representation. Currently, there are seven vacancies.

Initially brought forth by education councillor Katie Kidd, council is currently in the progress of creating a bill that will equalize the signatures required for students running for councillors positions. 

Kidd, who is a member of policy committee, first brought up concerns about the lack of vacancies on council and the vast differences of required signatures between faculties on November 5. 

Unsatisfied with Yiming Chen’s — past nominating committee chair and arts councillor — lack of action, Kidd said she would fix the problem herself. 

“It doesn’t seem fair to people that the numbers [of signatures] are so high and if you won’t do something about it, I will,” she said. 

At the December 3 council meeting, Katie Kidd brought forth Bill 7, which acts to more fairly assign the number of signatures required for students running for a spot on council.

“I said I was going to change how people petition to get on council during the bylaw position and I did,” Kidd said. 

Students Union president Akanksha Bhatnagar said this bill is a step towards making council a more accessible, embracing space. 

“This is my second term on council as an official member of council, every single year we talk about inclusivity… and we’ve done not a lot to support that,” Bhatnagar said. “ I’m very happy with this because it’s a real promise to make council more inclusive. 

“It’s unfortunate that this [bill] was put forward by somebody [who’s] mandate isn’t to do this, so I appreciate the work done on this,” she added. 

The bill passed Students’ Council on January 28.

Chair of nominating committee refused to step down, voted to be removed

In order to bring about Bill 7, Students’ Council removed the chair of nominating committee who did not see a need to change the requirement. 

At a December 3 Students’ Council meeting, Students’ Union vice-president (external) Adam Brown announced that arts councillor Yiming Chen was relieved of her position as chair of nominating committee. Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences (ALES) councillor Stephanie McKenzie has taken over as chair.

When concerns about the large number of signatures required to run were originally brought up, Chen said that reducing signatures was unfair to councillors who already did the work.

“It’s not quite fair for the students who are already in council because they already faced those barriers and overcame those difficulties,” she said. “It’s not fair to make it easier for others to get to these positions.” 

At the November 19 council meeting, Bhatnagar said she sensed a lack of organizational support to the chair of nominating committee and asked Chen if she would be step down from her position. 

Chen said she would not step down from her position because she believed she was leading nominating committee to fill their mandate of posting vacancies online.

“If we don’t have enough applications this year, we may need to reflect on the quality of the committee itself or reflect on why we need more people this year than we did in previous years,” Chen said. “There are multiple reasons why we don’t have enough people.

“We would like to do better, but we think that we already do our best and if there are other suggestions we would be open to accept them.”

Bhatnagar then went on to make a motion requiring nominating committee to meet before the December 3 council meeting and present a written plan of action, which passed unanimously. 

It was at this meeting that councillor Chen was removed from her position by a committee vote. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Bill 7 had not passed at the time of publication. Bill 7 passed on January 28. The article has since been amended to reflect this. The Gateway regrets the error.

Khadra Ahmed

Khadra is the Gateway's 2020-2021 News Editor, dedicated to providing intersectional news coverage on campus. She's a fifth-year student studying biology and women's and gender studies. While working for The Gateway, she continues the tradition of turning coffee into copy.

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