Copyright © 2021 Federation of Students, University of Waterloo operating as Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association
General Meetings: In Other Words
Written by Richard Wu, Federation of Students President. Updated September 2019.
What is a General Meeting, and why should it matter to you?
Let's break it down.
A meeting open to all members of an organization. - Oxford Dictonary definition [external link]
You and I (and all other UWaterloo undergrads) are members of an organization - the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) - and the General Meeting is open for all of us to attend.
The day-to-day operations of our student association are looked after by the Exec and supported by staff, so that the rest of us can focus on our academics, social life, well-being, etc. Twice a year, WUSA holds General Meetings where all 30,000+ members can attend and provide direction to those who do the day-to-day on what we want them to do and how we want them to operate, while we focus on our own stuff.
Obviously, all 30,000+ of undergrads don't attend. In fact, it's actually a challenge to even meet quorum (the minimum percentage of members needed in attendance for the meeting to take place) which is crazy, because it's only 200 people, or less than 1% of undergrads making decisions that affect all of us.
What type of decisions are we talking about? Things like voting on:
- Fall Reading Break;
- the SLC/PAC Expansion Project;
- and the removal of the WPIRG fee.
Part of what has to be done at General Meetings is less-than-exciting housekeeping stuff that organizations need to do, like passing bylaws and ratifying auditors; but that stuff is like paying the bills: not the most thrilling part of your day, but important to do so that the things you need continue to work.
Some of the discussions might sound really technical, and might seem a bit intimidating if it's new to you, but don't let that keep you away. You can always reach out to me with any questions about the agenda or General Meetings. It's better to be a bit uncomfortable than to let someone else make decisions for you.
So even though it might not be the most exciting part of your day, it's still important to participate. And the extra bright side is that there will be food!
If you're in class or off campus on a co-op, you can still participate, too (just not in the free food portion, unfortunately). You can stream live [external link] and tell a friend who's going how you want to vote, and they can vote for you by proxy.
I hope this has helped break down what a General Meeting is, and why it should matter to you - to all undergrads.
Participating in General Meetings ensures that decisions made reflect the genuine interests of the undergraduate body, and not just the interests of a few.