UMSU proposes closing selections committee process to public

Motion cites “sensitivity of the items often discussed”

Among UMSU’s recently-proposed governance restructuring is a possible amendment to close all meetings of its selections committee from public purview.

In a document made available at its Feb. 7 board meeting, it is written that the suggestion was made because “UMSU’s selections committee discusses many sensitive matters (e.g. qualifications and qualities of members, credit card statements, hardship funding oversight) and are composed entirely of board members for this reason.”

It then suggests UMSU governing documents be amended to “ensure all meetings of selections committee take place in closed session unless otherwise noted given the sensitivity of the items often discussed.”

The UMSU selections committee is composed of the UMSU president, one vice-president and four board members selected at random.

Currently, selections committee minutes are available to UMSU members upon request.

The motion was brought forward shortly after the union turned over a number of documents requested by the Manitoban, including minutes from selection committee meetings, credit card and budgetary statements.

The last selections committee meeting, held Jan. 28, included applications and decisions on appointments to one governance committee position, one judicial board representative position, two judicial board member-at-large positions and the appointment of several uncontested applicants to several committees.

The motion is scheduled to be voted on at UMSU’s March 14 board meeting. Its Feb. 28 board meeting was cancelled due to insufficient quorum requirements.

Current UMSU vice-president external Owen Black said the change was brought forward by the UMSU governance committee.

“This change was initiated during the process of when governance reviewed the current composition of the committees and the decision was made to move selections committee into closed session to protect the privacy of applicants that apply to selections committee,” he said.

The governance committee is made of the UMSU president, the UMSU vice-president of finance and operations, an UMSU governance staff member – all of whom are non-voting bodies – along with five board members and two students-at-large, all chosen by the selections committee.

The motion also contains changes to other areas of UMSU governance, including merging the U-Pass committee and the member services committee, and reducing the number of committee members on finance, member services and governance committees by two members each.

Responding to concerns this is a step away from transparency, Black emphasized that the UMSU governance committee decided certain discussions held within the selections committee had to be kept private.

“Due to the sensitive nature of discussing the quality of candidates based on their merit, governance thought it would be best to protect those discussions.”