October 16, 2006

Response to Silhouette Editorial of October 13th 2006

The Silhouette published an perplexing editorial written under the supervision of Chris Jaic and Shaheen Georgee about Kyra Machen’s attempt to have a bylaw that dictates who goes to OUSA conferences so that she can guarantee that the OUSA campus coordinator automatically gets to attend the conference.
The editorial was headlined “Bylaw 13 – OUSA”. It read as follows:

Every once and a while will take a minute to relect on some of the happenin’s with your elected representatives upstairs in the MSU. Now I’m not one who likes to focus on these these types of discussions, because quite frankly, a lot of the happenin’s are, well, boring and bureaucratic.
However in the spirit of promoting accountability and transparency please indulge me while I take a journey through a lil somethin’ somethin’ a brew in MUSC 201.
Recently, changes to MSU Bylaw 13- OUSA were brought forward at an Executive Board meeting. Why you ask? or at least I hope you ask … well. It all has to do with a little get together called the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance G.A. or general assembly. Basically it’s where the MSU uses your student money to send some of our people to converse with OUSA schools from all over the province. These meetings are where all of policy hashing is conducted, to ensure that OUSA represents students to the fullest. Should we be paying for this? Absolutely.
So what’s the change? In the spirit of transparency, Kyra Machen, vice-president education has brought forward a motion to clarify just who should be representing McMaster students at the OUSA assembly. In the past the VP ED, at his or her discretion did this selction, with ratification from the SRA (not a difficult task) so your can see why a little more clarification might make our organization a little more accountable. Who would represent us best? Certainly those who are versed in education policy and have a clear understanding of OUSA and political lobbying would better serve students over, lets say, a friend of a VP who has no idea what OUSA is.
So why did the amendment, which would ensure only the most relevant representation is in attendance, receive so much criticism?
I’ll leave that discovery up to you. Please contact your SRA representative via E-mail and ask them what their thoughts on the policy are. If I were you, I might even ask if they want to attend and if their want to attend influenced the decision they made on your behalf.

Okay, now if that is not a confusing, what is your actual point? editorial, I do not know what is.
As the only General MSU member, and one of only two members with previous bylaws experience, on the MSU Bylaws Committee, I am well aware of what is going on.
What has occurred is that the Vice-President Education brought forth her idea of what the Bylaw should say. She wanted the Bylaws to dictate exactly who would attend the OUSA General Assembly.
This attempt is redundant because the MSU currently has a policy on conference selection.
Her proposal specifically wanted to transfer the power to appoint the delegates from the SRA (on the recommendation of the Vice-President Education) to the Vice-President Education with the approval of the Board of Directors. So, from the delegation being approved in public by 35 people, she wanted it to be appointed by herself with approval of the four Board of Directors, of which she is one of the four.
I am not sure what dictionary the Silhouette uses but this is not within the any definition of transparency that I have ever seen.
The difference would be that less people would review the appointments, that there would be no minutes on the MSU website of the appointments and it would actually be less transparent.
Further, the proposed bylaw that the VP ED brought forth to replace the old one was fatally flawed. There is a reason that legislation is brought to committee. It is not for use to rubber stamp, instead it is for us to make better. After two hours of debate with the VP ED present, we improve the proposed legislation. She was clearly unhappy with this. I am not sure what else she was expecting, but that is how the system works.
We sent our amended and passed legislation to the Executive Board where it was unanimously approved by EB on behalf of the SRA.
The interesting part of this unanimous approval is that Kyra Machen voted in favour of the Bylaw changes as passed by the Bylaws Committee.
This is why I find it rather funny that she went to the Silhouette to get them to publish this editorial.
The summary of the new bylaw is that the six seats that the MSU has at the OUSA conference are filled as follows:
The MSU Vice President Education;
The SRA External Affairs Committee Chair; and
Four MSU/SRA members.
The four MSU/SRA members will be appointed by the SRA in a public process open and transparent to all members.
I believe this is a vast improvement to the current picked by the VP ED process.
This may not be what Kyra Machen invisioned but that is the way that democracy works.
So how did we get to the Sil having an editorial about this that completely reverses the events that have occurred? Simple, another example of a complete lack of transparency.
Kyra Machen took the matter to the Silhouette, gave her side of the story and the Silhouette decided to run it.
Why does the Sil have the facts so wrong?
Simple, they never bothered to do any journalism on the story. They never asked anyone about what was going on. They never bothered to leave their office to look into the issue.
Sadly, this is an example of how untransparent the Silhouette is.
Now if the Sil is looking for a editorial to publish, may I suggest that look right at the Vice-President Education. She has spoke in favour of the University’s attempt to increase ancillary fees. This despite clear MSU policy which states that full-time undergraduate students are opposed to these fee increases! This was voted on at the SRA. Why is it that they are letting her away with speaking against students and standing for fee increases?
Lastly, I assure all McMaster Students Union members that I remain has committed to them as always. I will continue to pay the conquenses associated with my stands on issues and our fight to make the MSU Inc. accountable to students.