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Live Blogging from the Dalhousie Student Union Annual General Meeting (Part Deux)
Does the fate of NSPIRG hang in the balance?
April 1st, 2009
Dalhousie Student Union Building, MacInnes Auditorium
6:32 pm - People are filing into the room. Approximately 40 pizzas have arrived, and they are being eaten as quickly as they are brought in. Attendance is at least 100 students, media, Sodexho staff, security, and others. The auditorium is three quarters full.
6:45 pm - Some students have faces painted from the carnival and concert, held earlier in the day in front of the Killam library, featuring bands, stilt walkers, clowns, and more. The line-up, according to Shannon Zimmerman (incoming DSU president), extends out to first floor lobby and out the front door.
6:57 pm - Mat Brechtel, chair of the meeting, has begun his preamble. "There was a tool called the challenge to the chair that was abused at the last meeting (March 11th).... It is not intended to procedurally do what you democratically cannot do. I encourage you all to achieve your democratic ends, through the use of a vote."
7:03: From the back of the room in the press booth, it looks like all the chairs are full.
7:28 pm - DSU Vice President Education Mark Coffin is presenting his portfolio, consisting mostly of lobbying nationally and provincially through CASA and ANSSA. Tony Seed, editor of Shunpiking Magazine and former candidate of the Marxist-Leninist Party, sitting beside me, says the lobbying model is selling out students' interests.
HALIFAX – “We need to trust that people will be honest”, said Mat Brechtel, chair of the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU), referring to a ballot vote after two votes by hand count had failed to determine whether or not a motion concerning the Nova Scotia Public Interest Research Group (NSPIRG) would be added to the meeting's agenda. Brechtel was chairing the DSU's Annual General Meeting to a packed auditorium of 200 students.
The motion called on the DSU to make NSPIRG vacate their offices within 30 days, that NSPIRG make a public apology for "wasting students' money," and also stated that all funds should be with held from NSPIRG and held in trust by the DSU.
The issue of whether the student-funded social justice organization NSPIRG should continue to receive funding was the hot debate item of the evening. Though the item was added to the agenda, it now needs to be voted on by the Dalhousie student body at a subsequent general meeting, to be held April 1st in the Dalhousie Student Union Building at 6:30 pm. It will require a simple majority of 50 percent plus one to either pass or fail.
The meeting began with a tightly controlled security check at the doors of the McInnes Room, the auditorium where the AGM was held. As per orders of DSU President, Courtney Larkin, no non-Dalhousie students were allowed into the AGM, including NSPIRG members and a staff, despite precedence during past AGMs.
According to supporters of NSPIRG inside the meeting, several non-students were still in attendance, including former members of the DSU council and executive.
The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.