Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 

 

1 General Questions


What is a General Assembly (GA)?

It is a meeting that provides all undergraduate students at the University of Ottawa the opportunity to engage in the decision-making process of their students’ union and to direct its work.

The GA adheres to Robert’s Rules of Order and is conducted in both official languages.

Who can participate in the GA?

All dues-paying members of the SFUO are permitted to attend and vote at the GA.

Student media are permitted to attend as observers, but may not vote.

Exchange students are not dues-paying members of the SFUO and are therefore not permitted to vote. They may, however, attend the GA as observers.

What is on the agenda?

Standard agenda items include:

  • Approval of the agenda
  • Motions
  • Approval of previous GA minutes
  • Executive Updates
  • Budget Updates

Printed agendas will be distributed to all students as they enter the GA.

How can I amend the agenda?

Once a motion to approve the proposed agenda has been seconded, you may propose an amendment to the agenda at one of the two microphones located at the front of the room, once you have been recognized by the chair. The chair will then call a vote on the proposed amendment.

What is the role of the chairperson (chair)?

The chairperson facilitates an orderly and effective meeting.

 

2 QUORUM


What is quorum?

It is the minimum number of members necessary to conduct any decision-making functions of the GA.

Quorum is obtained when 1% of the SFUO membership is present at the GA.

Why is quorum important?

Quorum ensures that any action or decision made during the GA is representative of the student body and not decided upon by a disproportionately small amount of members.

What happens if the GA doesn’t meet or loses quorum?

Agenda items requiring a vote cannot be addressed or discussed unless quorum is met.

Items that do no require a vote such as executive reports, budget updates, and question periods may proceed, up until a vote is required.

Robert’s Rules of Order will not be in effect unless the GA has quorum, however the Chair is still in charge of facilitating the meeting and decorum is still required.

If quorum is not met by the end of a twenty minute question and answer period, the chair will announce that the meeting is adjourned.

 

3 Process (Robert’s Rules of Order)


What is Robert’s Rules of Order?

It is a set of rules of order used to govern meeting procedures.

Attendees will be provided with a Robert’s Rules of Order cheat sheet at the GA.

What is a motion?

It is a formal proposal brought forward to the GA. The GA body votes on the motion to either approve or deny it.

How do I make a motion?

Motions must be submitted at least four (4) weeks prior to the date of the GA, as per the SFUO constitution. Motions contain non-binding “whereas” clauses that provide justification and motivation for the motion. Motions end with a binding “be it resolved” clause that will be voted on by the membership at the GA.

Examples of motions from the last GA can be found here.

How are motions approved? What does ‘seconded’ mean?

Motions are approved or defeated according to the process outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order. When the motion agenda item is reached, the Chair will announce the mover of the motion and will then call for a seconder. Seconding a motion simply brings the motion to the GA floor to be considered. Without a seconder, the motion will not be considered at the meeting. Any member present at the GA can second a motion. After separate periods of questions and debate, the Chair will call for a vote.

What happens when a motion is approved?

When a motion is approved, the “be it resolved” clauses will take effect.

How do I vote?

Present your student ID to an available official at the registration table located at the entrance to the GA room. Once your membership has been confirmed, you will be given a voting card.

When a vote is taking place, the chair will call for votes in favour followed by votes against and finally for abstentions (i.e., declining to vote).

Simply raise your card to indicate your vote.

Can I vote by proxy?

No, but the option to vote by proxy is being explored for GAs taking place in the next academic year.

What do I do when I want to speak during the GA?

If you would like to make a point of information, a point of order, or a point of personal privilege, you may line up at one of two microphones at the front of the room.

The chair will direct you to make your intervention.

What is a point of information?

Where a participant seeks clarification from the previous speaker. A point of information is NOT an opportunity for the person presenting the point to provide information themselves.

What is a point of order?

Where a participant objects to incorrect procedure being used.

What is a point of personal privilege?

When a participant wants to bring attention to something that prevents their continued participation (eg. excessive noise)

 

4 Language and Accommodations


What if I don’t speak both French AND English?

Instant interpretation devices will be made available to you upon the presentation of a valid photo ID.

What if I require ASL or LSQ interpretation, or other accommodations?

Simultaneous ASL and LSQ interpretation will be provided at the General Assembly.

Any accommodations requests can be sent to campaigns@sfuo.ca

Where is the GA held? Is the location accessible?

The GA is being held at the Ottawa Convention Centre (or ‘Shaw Centre’), which is located at 55 Colonel By Drive, attached to the Rideau Centre.

The location is accessible to those using mobility devices. Please contact campaigns@sfuo.ca for any questions or accommodation requests.

 

5 Miscellaneous


Why isn’t the GA held on campus?

The GA is not held on campus as there is only one classroom large enough to accommodate the GA size requirements and it is generally booked throughout the year for classes. Campus gyms require reservation 18 months in advance as they are reserved for uOttawa sports teams. Given the technical requirements of simultaneous English-French interpretation, setup for the GA requires access to the room or gym as early as 3pm if the GA is to begin at 7pm. As such, options for an on-campus GA are limited.

How long does the GA last?

The GA lasts as long as there is quorum, until all agenda items have been dealt with, or until the scheduled end time for the booked space.

What if I have to leave the GA early?

You may leave and return at any point during the GA; however, you will need to return your voting card and interpretation device before you depart.

The voting card and the interpretation device will be returned to you upon re-entry to the GA room, once you’ve confirmed your identity with an official at the registration table.

Once you have left the GA room, you will no longer be counted as part of quorum and may not vote.

How can I provide feedback to the GA? What will the feedback be used for?

Feedback forms will be available at the registration table located at the entrance of the GA room. You may also contact members of the SFUO executive.

The feedback will be used by the Executive and SFUO Campaigns staff to improve future GAs.