To get good insightful answers, how the question is framed matters. I missed an opportunity on Thursday
On Sunday the SRA met and the MSU Executive, with the help of their friends, completely destroyed what little resemblance of student democracy was left at McMaster. I am struggling to explain what happened because it was so amazingly unbelievable and wrong. I have been covering student politics across Canada and the only comparision I can draw is to the arrogance and anti-democratic behaviour of the “G7” at Simon Fraser.
The SRA meeting began with approval of the agenda. The Executive moved to have question period not in its normal position on the agenda, instead they asked for it to be the last item on the agenda. They did this to avoid having a question period with many people present and in the hope that after a long night of filibustering debate that the SRA would choose to cancel period. The SRA approved this and later in the evening the SRA cancelled question period completely. The Executive will go 18 weeks without having to answer questions from the SRA membership. This would include questions from students like myself when SRA members proxy their speaking rights to me. (Students are not allowed to speak to the SRA directly)
Next, the Speaker of the MSU made a ruling in regards to the firing without cause of the Silhouette Executive Editor. She ruled that MSU policy was not followed in firing the Editor and as such it was a violation by the Board of Directors. This ruling clearly stated that the actions of the Board of Directors were wrong. They had abused their power. It was now up to the SRA to act to enforce the rules.
The next item on the agenda was a discussion on having a referendum on the MSU’s membership in OUSA. I read out the revelant bylaws and pointed out that the proposed motion was a violation of bylaws and that a vote to withdrawl must occur with 90 days notice. The MSU President stated that even if students vote against continuing membership in OUSA, they are not voting to withdrawl because the question will not be worded to include the option to withdrawl. Do not ask me to explain the statement because I cannot. Basically, the MSU President is saying that Bylaws require 90 days notice of a vote to withdrawl but if the vote is only weither to continue membership. If students vote against continuing then we are merely not continuing our membership in OUSA not actually withdrawing because that is not what we are calling it. Orwell be proud of the MSU doublespeak on this issue.
During this debate, the MSU President, John Popham objected to my speaking to the matter more than twice and the Speaker ruled that I could not speak further. This is a violation of Robert’s Rules which requires that an objection to a person speaking be approved by 2/3rds of the voting members of a meeting. Of course, to Popham democracy is not important. Another nail in the coffin of democracy here at McMaster.
Finally after a few hours, we got to the debate on the firing of the Silhouette Editor. The Executive demanded that all votes be secret ballots on the matter. The first vote was to go in-camera and remove the membership of the MSU from the room. This was right after a speech I gave to the SRA pointing out what was going on. The Executive did not like the fact that certain members were allowing me to speech. The Executive found members to do their bidding.
Kyle Park complained that without secret ballots, the membership of the MSU may pressure them on the issue and they would be uncomfortable voting the way they wanted to vote because the membership was pressuring them to vote another way. Basically, Park and Jones wanted to vote to allow the Executive to violate the rules but the membership of the MSU in Humanities and Social Science has been overwhelming demanding that the SRA not allow the Executive to get away with their unacceptable behaviour.
The vote to remove the MSU membership was a secret ballot. All votes for the remainder of the evening were secret to prevent the MSU membership from knowing how their representatives were voting on their behalf. Heck, even the Patriot Act in the United States was not voted on in secret! The SRA choose to allow the Executive to violate any MSU policy that they please as they please. They also voted to be unaccountable to the membership of the MSU by holding all votes as secret ballots to specifically prevent the membership from having the democratic right to know how their member is voting on the issues. Disgusting.
With the SRA now hiding their votes, democracy at McMaster is truly on mechanicial life support. Shame.
Oh yeah, the MSU Executive continues to claim they did not fire the Executive Editor without cause. I am sick of the Executive lying to the members of the MSU. As such, here is the proof that the firing was without cause: (The blacked out parts are financial figures, I am going to have more charges filed against me by the MSU under the McMaster Student Code of Conduct for posting this document and providing the truth to people. I am protecting myself somewhat by not posting the financial numbers. The University has told me that all they need is an excuse to suspend me.)
This is the same Board of Directors who lied to the SRA in the summer claiming that I was not banned from MSU space. I, of course, had proof of that as well and I posted it to my website: http://www.joeycoleman.ca/archives/2006/07/10/here_is_the_proof.html
They then changed their story and said that I was not banned because I was only politely asked to not enter MSU space and that the University’s decision to enforce a ban had nothing to do with them.