Quorum not met at AMS special general meeting, staff food bank access remains restricted

On Tuesday, the AMS’s special general meeting (SGM) was adjourned before a vote could take place since the meeting did not meet quorum.

In April, Sulong UBC submitted a petition, signed by over 500 students as per AMS bylaws, which calls on the AMS to hold a SGM to vote on a motion to reinstate AMS associate members’ access to the AMS Food Bank and to consult with students through a referendum to reverse the above motion. Associate members include UBC and AMS staff and faculty.

In March 2023, the AMS restricted UBC staff access to the AMS Food Bank starting in May 2023 because of financial hardship.

For the motion to be voted on, the meeting needed to reach a quorum of 623 students, roughly 1 per cent of students registered in the 2023/24 academic year which runs from September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2024.

Quorum was not reached as just under 460 people were in attendance, and the meeting was adjourned around 10:30 a.m.

AMS adopts ‘no’ stance on motion

On Instagram, the AMS posted saying “Prioritize UBC students at the AMS Food Bank” by voting no to the motion.

In the post, the AMS wrote it believes staff deserve access to the food bank, but “budget restraints have already limited the quality and quantity of food [the AMS] can offer to students.”

“Reinstating access for UBC staff and faculty would limit students even further,” read the post.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, AMS President Christian ‘CK’ Kyle said the AMS adopted a no stance because AMS Council’s last decision was in favour of keeping food bank access solely for students. As chair of the SGM, CK said he has to remain impartial and did not take a stance regarding the motion.

Student groups like Sprouts, Climate Justice UBC, UBC Social Justice Centre and Sulong UBC advocated for students to vote yes to support UBC staff. In an Instagram post, the student groups wrote “food is for everyone,” and that voting yes is “the only option … that comes from a place of compassion for others in the community.”

Students express SGM governance concerns

Students expressed concern online about the AMS not following its bylaws regarding the SGM.

CK said SGMs do not have technical rules in the AMS bylaws, so the society used Robert’s Rules of Order instead.

“We went pretty far above our actual bylaw requirements for notice of a Special General Meeting,” said CK.

The meeting did not hit quorum after a 30-minute grace period from the meeting’s official start time. This grace period is in accordance with the AMS bylaws for its annual general meeting.

Students and student groups have also criticized the AMS for limited promotion of the SGM, for requiring registration to access the webinar and for releasing the registration only a day in advance, but CK said the society adhered to its bylaws.

“We went above and beyond all the actual requirements,” said CK, as the AMS posted about the SGM on social media more than is required. “We sent out emails to food bank users … we actually did notify students, again, significantly more than our bylaws require us to.”

The meeting was initially supposed to take place in-person. CK said Sulong UBC asked the AMS to move the meeting from in-person to hybrid, but the AMS couldn’t afford to host a hybrid meeting. Instead, the society held the meeting online over Zoom webinar.

“I wish we had gone through the online option earlier … We wanted it to be as accessible as possible,” said CK.

Sulong to host community meeting, council to discuss motion

In response to the quorum failure, Sulong UBC wrote in an Instagram post that it is holding a community meeting to discuss the motion.

In an interview with The Ubyssey, Sulong representative Maya Fernando explained “there were people who wanted … to speak” at the SGM.

“I know that they’re disappointed, so we wanted to provide them another opportunity,” said Fernando.

Additionally, CK said this motion will be discussed by AMS Council at its June 19 meeting.

“I'm excited for the discussion of Council. I hope that students come and make their opinions heard,” said CK. “I think it's unfortunate we didn't get quorum, but it's a trend in the AMS.”

While Fernando will speak at the upcoming AMS meeting, they highlighted their discontent with the restraints of the platform.

“They only offer three slots right now … We really wanted to centre the workers’ voices … and that’s why we were really looking forward to the original SGM, because they let non-students speak,” said Fernando. “It’s about giving the voice to the people … most affected by the decision.”

Fernando said that although not reaching quorum “was a bit of a disappointment,” the SGM set a “precedent” given that the last SGM meeting was about 30 years ago.

“Now people know that there’s an option to have your voice heard,” said Fernando.

“There’s this democratic process for you … so even though it was a loss, I think it’s still a gain overall that the student body knows of this process.”