Ambiguous wording in the Mount Allison students’ union’s bylaw brought the legitimacy of an emergency meeting of the Student Administrative Council into question. While the legitimacy of this meeting is no longer in question, the ambiguity that caused the initial questions remains under some interpretations.
The SAC met on Dec. 2 to approve the allocation of $5,000 dollars to fund a survey of MASU members. The money went to Common Metric, “a boutique data analytics and consulting firm specializing in higher education,” hired to help run the survey. The emergency meeting occurred to allocate the funding to Common Metric before the end of term to ensure their availability.
The ambiguity arises in Law II section six of MASU’s bylaws, the law under which MASU President Heather Webster had the meeting called. It reads, “special circumstances requiring immediate action shall empower the President to have a meeting called without having posted notice or an agenda for twenty-four (24) hours.”
The words, “to have a meeting called,” cause ambiguity because they do not stipulate who would call this emergency meeting.
“It’s vague … to prevent anyone from having a veto power if council wants to convene,” said Josh Outerbridge, vice-president of finance and operations for MASU.
In theory, if the law stipulated that one individual should call an emergency meeting, an emergency meeting could not occur if that person was absent.
“Given that it is a special circumstance … the bylaws are acknowledging … that there might not be time for the chairperson to receive notice and that is what is happening with our meeting,” said Outerbridge.
“It is basically just a different way of phrasing that [the President] can call a meeting,” said John Nuttall, chairperson of the SAC.
In an Argosy report published last week, Nuttall said that the meeting was illegitimate, but he has since retracted this statement, saying that the meeting was legitimate and no rules were broken.
The article also questions the legitimacy of Ryan Harley’s chairing the meeting, but upon review of the bylaws his role as chair is legitimate.
Nuttall did not see the email calling the meeting until after the meeting had occurred due to a late night of studying. In the absence of the chairperson his or her duties as chair of the meeting fall to the deputy chair. Hired a week early, Taylor Crosby, the debuty chair said that her short time on the job rendered her incapable of chairing the meeting allowing her to step down under Law X section 2-C.
“It was my first actual meeting- that I had been to as deputy chair- [and] our chairperson wasn’t able to make it, so our vice-president communications stepped in… I was not sure how the meeting really ran,” said Crosby.
Since the deputy chair was incapable of performing her duties, the responsibility of chairing the meeting fell to Ryan Harley, MASU’s vice-president of communications. The vice-president of communications, under Bylaw 4 6-L, can “assume the duties of Deputy Chair in the event of the absence or incapacity of the Deputy Chair.”