AMS Council ‘authorizes’ executives to release notes from closed meeting session on SASC

At the July 11 AMS Council meeting, councillors put forward a motion to make the June 20 closed meeting’s minutes public. After a closed session, Council ‘authorized’ the release of the minutes but gave the executives the ability to determine the scope of the release. The executive said they would make them public along with the post-town hall document on Monday July 16.

The AMS executives said they will release previously confidential minutes from the June 20 meeting’s closed session regarding the now-reversed decision to cut the Sexual Assault Support Centre’s (SASC) support services.

While this information is expected to be sent out next Monday — along with the minutes from the July 5 town hall and SASC’s financial information — it’s yet to be determined how many details would be released.

“Council has authorized to release them as part of the larger package of documents,” said AMS President Marium Hamid in a message to The Ubyssey.

“We are yet to decide as a team the details of that release.”

This decision followed an extensive debate and a vote in the July 11 AMS Council meeting, in response to the call for more transparency and accountability in the society following the ongoing changes regarding SASC’s operations.

During the June 20 AMS Council meeting, AMS executives informed councillors about the now-reversed plan to cut support services from SASC in a closed session, which prompted complaints about the society’s lack of transparency. Minutes from this closed meeting can only been be seen by AMS Councillors and approved personnel.

Those complaints were amplified after it was noted that cutting SASC’s services would not have been possible without Council approval — even though SASC workers had already been terminated. The decision was reversed after the AMS faced immediate and intense backlash from the campus community.

Arts councillor Andy Wu then introduced a motion at the July 11 meeting to make the minutes public, citing the need for more transparency.

“In a lot of these documents and a lot of the press coverage … one important actor has been missing, and that is the Council,” Wu said. “For such a consequential decision to be made without Council … is alarming.”

That scope of the motion was then debated extensively, with one wording giving the AMS executives the option to redact the minutes. Executives cautioned that this approach would take away councillors’ input into the redaction.

“It is a little unfair to councillors that were a part of that discussion to not see the document first and then move a motion like this," said VP Academic and University Affairs Max Holmes.

Holmes also pointed out then that the AMS will be releasing more information about the issue through the July 5 town hall meeting and the post-meeting document that is expected to be released next Monday.

AMS Council then moved into a closed session to deliberate without revealing the contents of the minutes. In the subsequent open session, law representative Dylan Braam put forward a revised motion that “authorizes” the executive to release the minutes.

“BIRT [Be it resolved that] the AMS Council authorize the AMS Executive to release the in camera minutes from AMS Council’s meeting of June 20th, 2018,” reads the motion.

This motion was carried after another lengthy deliberation as some councillors called for a full release, noting the verb “authorize” does not obligate the executives to release the minutes in their entirety.

“This gives carte blanche to the executives,” noted theology councillor Muse Greenwood at the time.

Braam said he was willing to compromise because of the “assumption” that AMS Council could vote to release the minutes at the next meeting on August 1 should the executives fail to release them.

“This is a decision of council,” said Braam. “We do not defer to the executive on everything, whether or not we agree or disagree with the executive.”