The Northern Undergraduate Student Society has been under pressure from a group of students to adopt an Oversight Board. NUGSS has been getting plenty of scrutiny after the AGM in October where they announced the student government body was in deep financial problems. Years of mismanagement of funds and unprofitable years of the Thirsty Moose Pub has led to NUGSS inability to pay certain debt obligations like $100,000 debt to BC Transit for the U - pass.
These financial problems created many shocking announcements for the student body during that meeting. One announcement hit home for many students, and that was the possible closure of the Thirsty Moose Pub, a staple of UNBC life. This has motivated a group of students to ask "how has it come to this?"
Erike Searle and Chris King are two of those students, who plan to bring forward a motion on Wednesday, Feb 22nd's EGM (Extraordinary General meeting). The motion would effectively create a student elected board who would monitor the actions of the NUGSS Executive Board to ensure they are complying with the wishes of students. The Oversight Board would scrutinize directors reports submitted by the NUGSS executive at the end of every month. According to the Facebook page "NUGSS Needs an Oversight Board" this is what they want to purpose.
"• 5 equal voting members elected by the student body at the same time every year as the regular NUGSS elections Powers: • To scrutinize and approve monthly director's reports • To under extreme circumstances, with sufficient grounds, and with the support of at least four of the five members of the Oversight Board bring a motion of censure, suspension, or impeachment against a member of the NUGSS Board of Directors Responsibilities: • To attend monthly meetings and hear monthly reports from the board of directors • To consistently act in the best interest of NUGSS Quorum: • At least four members of the oversight in must are in attendance to meet quorum"
According to King, the goal of this board is monitor what the directors are doing to ensure that proper usage of student funds are happening. There are concerns that current student representatives are claiming hours in their director reports which they are not doing. One of the most provocative parts of the proposal is the one to give powers to the Oversight Board to censure, suspended or impeach a member of the NUGSS Executive Board if the Oversight Board feels it is necessary. When asked about this part of the motion King said the only time a student would be impeached is if there was extremely unprofessional behavior, which has occurred. Example used was a past board where one student was coming to the meetings drunk.
Seth Jex Chair of Over the Edge and someone who is intimately involved in NUGSS spoke with CFUR stating "...this year we saw Johanne [Vice President of External Affairs] [experienced an attempted] impeachment, for missing board meetings. It is stated in the bylaws that if you miss three or more board meetings impeachment can be attempted." CFUR has learned though in the past NUGSS has given leeway to students in missing meetings to accommodate student busy lives. According to Jex if the use of this function is only needed in extream cases then it is unnecessary, this is because it is already in place and has been put to use by the current board.
CFUR has learned that NUGSS has been extremely dysfunctional this year with certain factions working against each other. Ana Saenz Vice President of Internal Affairs has stepped down from here position due to the dysfunctionality of the board. Ana Spoke to CFUR about the problems in NUGSS and why she and other board members are opposing the Oversight Committee.
Ana Saenz the Vice President of Internal Affairs, she is opposition to the Oversight Board
Arctica Cunningham, the President of NUGSS, sat down with CFUR to highlight the various issues being brought forward in the EGM and also the idea of the Oversight Board. When asked about the powers of censure, suspension, and impeachment which will be granted to this Oversight Board, she stated that is one of the areas which has divided the board.
"There are a lot of things that happen behind the scenes of student government organizations. A lot of work happens that if you haven't held a position like that before you don't realize the amount of expertise it takes, mistakes you make before you figure out what you are doing. There are concerns that there wouldn't be an understanding of what has happened behind the sense before a measure [Censure, Suspension, or Impeachment] like that is brought in" Cunningham stated. "I know the students have tried to write this to ensure that these are last ditch efforts."
Currently, NUGSS polices themselves regarding appropriate conduct of the board. However, in the current state of NUGSS, the board is prone to infighting and use of the impeachment mechanism.
CFUR sat down with Arctica Cunningham President of NUGSS
Cunningham also states in the interview that NUGSS was able to pay the $100,000.00 debt to BC Transit with help from UNBC. NUGSS also put in place a debt management police and others to ensure that NUGSS is not spending money or borrowing money without greater consideration. NUGSS also wants to reduce the board size from eleven to eight people. A possible increase of $6.50, to student fees at the Prince George Campus, is also on the table.
The impacts of the EGM are likely to have a bearing on the upcoming NUGSS election. Already CFUR has heard that the position of President will be contested. It is unsure what the outcomes of the EGM will be but it is sure to have students divided.
Wednesday, Feb. 22 2017
NUSC Space at 11 am