Legislative History: Approved by President: 1988/25/10; Approved by Board 1988/12/05; Sections A, C & D Approved by Board Student Relations Committee: 1988/11/07; Date Effective:1989/01/01.
Approval Authority: President and Board of Governors
Description: Regulations regarding student governments/organizations and principles for their activities and finances. With Section A. “Governing Principles” Section C. “Draft Regulations to be Proposed to the Student Relations Committee of the Board of Governors” and Section D. “Joint Statement. . .”, this document is known as “The White Paper on Student Government.” The “Introduction” [below] by President Arthurs provides more detail on the jurisdictional aspects of the “White Paper.” The current version has appended a list of Constitutional Guidelines for student governments, developed by the office of the Vice President (Campus Relations & Student Affairs). The Guidelines and Procedures for the Conduct of Student Referenda are also developed under this legislation.
For many years, indeed almost from the earliest days of the university, the question of how student government and activities at York should be configured and financied has been a matter of concern and controversy. Recently, under the leadership of Provost T.A. Meininger, the issue has been addressed in three forums, each of which has made an important contribution to its resolution. An expert, outside opinion was received from Prof. Gilmor, Provost of Guelph University; the Student Relations Committee of the Board of Governors has considered the matter at length; the student governments themselves have been giving reform anxious consideration.
In addition student views, developed through internal processes and conveyed in open discussions with the administration, have been given careful calls to me as President to exercise my statutory responsibilities under the York University Act to bring matters to a definitive solution. That solution comprises four elements:
A. Governing principles which define the essential elements of the new arrangements.
B. Presidential regulations concerning student government and activities at York
These regulations will have full force and effect from January 1, 1989.
C. Draft regulations concerning the financing of student government.
These draft regulations will be presented as soon as possible to the Student Relations Committee of the Board of Governors and, if approved, to the Board itself for formal enactment. It is anticipated that they will have full force and effect from January 1, 1989.
D. A draft statement concerning the activities and financial affairs of student governments and student organizations.
This statement will be issued jointly (if approved) by the Student Relations Committee on behalf of the Board of Governors, and the President.
A. GOVERNING PRINCIPLES FOR THE REFORM OF STUDENT GOVERNMENTS AND ORGANIZATIONS AND THEIR ACTIVITIES AND FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
The following governing principles are now established as the basis of student government, organizations activities and financial affairs at York University.
- York University believes that independent student governments and student organizations promote learning, growth and responsibility amongst those who conduct these activities and serve the interests of their fellow students. Conversely it believes that the quality and diversity of life on campus can be enriched by the activities of student governments and organizations. It therefore formally recognizes and supports such duly constituted governments and organizations.
- Student governments, student organizations and the financing of student activities must be conducted on a democratic, orderly, and responsible basis. The possibility of orderly and democratic change must also be guaranteed.
- Legal powers and responsibilities conferred by the York University Act on the President and the Board of Governors in relation to student government, organizations, activities and finances prevent the full devolution of authority by them. However, their respective powers and responsibilities should be exercised so far as is legally and practically possible in a manner consistent with the principles described above. The Provost, acting on behalf of the Board and the President, will support and advance these principles.
- Activities affecting all students occur at three levels: central, faculty and local. Students should have the right to form student governments at the level of the University as a whole, at the faculty level, and–in accordance with York tradition–at the college level. A constitutional framework must exist to ensure that the formation, operation and funding of student governments at all levels conform to proper standards of democratic practice and financial responsibility. In addition, students have the right to come together in nongovernmental organizations at all levels for activities or projects of interest to more specialized constituencies.
- Student governments should also have the right, subject to the constitutional framework, to fix the amount for the levy to be paid by their constituents, and to receive and disburse such funds. The University administration and the Board of Governors should facilitate the collection of the levy, subject only to compliance with regulations governing the approval of levies, and requirements related to financial reporting.
- All students should be represented by a central student government which can effectively advocate their common and collective interests vis-a-vis the University and outside bodies. While a single government would be most appropriate to represent the common and collective interests of all students, in deference to existing sentiment two central student governments should be established: one for undergraduates and one for graduate and professional students.
- The internal structure of each central government will be determined by students, in accordance with constitutional procedures. Provision can and should be made to accommodate anomalous groups of students, without depriving them of representation by a central government. Cooperation between the two central student governments should be encouraged, and the possibility of formal linkages should be explored.
- Student government constituencies at the faculty and college levels will normally be congruent with the membership of the faculties and colleges, as defined by the University.
- Students may wish to establish voluntary organizations to pursue social, cultural or other activities, or to reflect the academic and extracurricular interests of student members of departments, programs or other academic units. The formation and operation of such organizations should be facilitated by both student governments and the relevant academic units.
- The central administration, faculties, and other units including the colleges, should all provide significant programs of extra-curricular and co-curricular student activities to complement academic programs. Such activities may be provided directly, or in cooperation with or with direct support from student governments or organizations.
- In the context of York’s financial situation, the continuity and quality of such programming can only be ensured by appropriate financial allocations from student activity fees. Assurances must be given that (i) student governments or organizations, where they exist, will be consulted concerning such programs and (ii) funds allocated for student activities will not be spent for other academic or administrative purposes.
- Implementation of the new constitutional regime for student government and finances, and of the new arrangements concerning the college system, require the establishment of transitional financial arrangements. These transitional arrangements must not operate so as to prevent existing governments from receiving less support than they received in the 1987-88 fiscal year.
B. PRESIDENTIAL REGULATION NUMBER 4
Student Governments and Organizations, and their Activities and Finances
- A “student government” is a body formally recognized as representing all the students enrolled in one of the following constituencies: a college, a faculty, or a major segment of the University embracing several faculties. A student government is normally concerned with a broad array of activities, including representation of the interests of those students in discussions with the academic and administrative authorities of the university, a faculty or a college.
- A “student organization” is a voluntary association of students with common interests, which may or may not be associated with a particular academic discipline or unit. They include organizations formed for purposes of carrying forward a particular activity, cause or project. Examples of such organizations include the Student Centre Corporation, ethnocultural or religious organizations, and departmental or program organizations (which may also serve as constituencies within recognized student governments).
- The “Student Relations Committee” is a Committee of the Board of Governors of York University charged with exercising its statutory powers and responsibilities in matters relating to student government and finances. It also exercises powers over student finances and activities assigned to it by Presidential Regulations.
Central Student Government
- Every student must be represented by, and pay a fee to, a central student government.
- The Council of York Federation of Students (CYFS) is recognized as the central government for all undergraduate students. It represents:
- as full members, all students in the Faculties of Arts, Education, Environmental Studies, Fine Arts, Pure and Applied Science, and undergraduate students in the Faculty of Administrative Studies, and
- as associate members, on terms agreed between CYFS and their respective faculty governments, students in Osgoode Hall Law School, Glendon College, and Atkinson College.
- The Graduate Students’ Association is recognized as the central government for all graduate students. It represents:
- as full members, all students enrolled in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, and
- as associate members, on terms agreed between the GSA and the GBC and ESSA respectively, students in the Faculties of Administrative Studies and Environmental Studies.
Faculty Level Student Government
- Every student registered in a faculty will be represented by the student government of that faculty, provided it has been recognized by the Student Relations Committee.
- The following existing student governments are herewith recognized: the Atkinson College Student Association, the Glendon College Student Union, the Environmental Studies Student Association, the Graduate Business Council, the Graduate Students’ Association, and the Legal and Literary Society.
- Students in any faculty for which there is not an existing recognized government may establish one, and seek recognition by:
- presenting a petition signed by 10% of the students registered in the faculty, or
- conducting a referendum, in accordance with standards established by the Board of Referendum Commissioners and approved by the Student Relations Committee.
- The Student Relations Committee will extend recognition to a faculty level government which:
- files a constitution which complies with the principles set forth above, and
- provides proof that approval for recognition has been demonstrated by either a petition or a referendum, as indicated above.
- Only one faculty level student government shall be recognized for each faculty.
- Where there is a recognized faculty level student government, each student registered in that faculty will pay to it a membership fee determined and approved in accordance with the regulations.
- Subject to the principles governing these regulations, a central or faculty student government may make constitutional provision for associate membership for categories of students (in addition to the those specified above) who are the beneficiaries of some of its activities, but are unable to participate in its affairs because of the location of their studies or other anomalous conditions.
- Provision for associate membership must be approved by the Student Relations Committee.
College Level Governments
- Every student who is a member of a college will be represented by the recognized college government.
(Note: Under the new arrangements, college membership is proposed to be compulsory for all first year undergraduate students in the Faculties of Administrative Studies, Arts, Environmental Studies, Fine Arts, and Pure and Applied Science. Following first year, all undergraduate students will retain their college membership unless they either transfer or terminate it. All resident undergraduates must maintain college membership.)
- All existing college governments are automatically recognized.
- Every member of a college shall pay a membership fee.
- Every undergraduate students who opts not to maintain membership in a college shall pay in lieu of a college membership fee an equivalent special activities fee. Such equivalent fees will be used to support the Faculty Student Activities Fund described below.
- Students may form organizations to promote activities, causes or projects in which they are interested.
- Upon approval or authorization by the relevant body, such organizations are eligible to
- receive grants from a sponsor, including a student government or a faculty, college, department or other academic unit, and
- receive funds generated by a levy approved in accordance with these regulations.
- All such organizations must, prior to receiving funds, provide the Provost with
- a copy of their constitution or equivalent written statement of purposes and goals,
- a current listing of the names and addresses of executive officers, including the treasurer or equivalent, and
- an undertaking to observe the general regulations and policies of the university and the regulations and procedures governing financial accountability.
- If a student organization fails to observe these requirements, the Provost may suspend the payment of funds to them and draw the situation to the attention of the sponsor or (in the case of an organization receiving a levy) of the Student Relations Committee for appropriate action.
Student Activities Funds
- In order to promote programs of co-curricular and extra-curricular activities at the level of the faculty, college, department or other academic unit, a portion of the aggregate student activities fees collected from undergraduate students in the Faculties of Arts, Fine Arts, Science, and Administrative Studies, and students enrolled in the concurrent program of the Faculty of Education, will be used to establish
- A Faculty Student Activities Fund shall be established, for which the Dean of the faculty will be responsible and
- a College Student Activities Fund, for which the Master of the college will be responsible.
- The total amount of Student Activities Funds allocated for these purposes will be equally divided between
- the undergraduate faculties in proportion to their course enrolments, and
- the colleges in proportion to the number of their full time equivalent members, provided however that in order to ensure the stability of funding all allocations will be made within a range stipulated from time to time, by the Provost, following consultation with the Council of Masters.
- The responsible Dean or Master shall:
- expend the Student Activities Fund only for the purposes for which they are intended, and not for other academic or administrative purposes,
- publish annually and provide to the Provost and the relevant faculty-level student government, a year-end statement showing how funds have been expended,
- consult at least once each year with the relevant student government, on the basis of a proposed budget and program statement, concerning the activities to be supported by the Student Activities Fund, or
- in the absence of a student government in a faculty, publish the proposed budget and program statement and invite and seriously consider any written suggestions or proposals from students concerning such expenditure.
- The Dean or Master may either make direct expenditures for student activities or make grants to a student government or organization, for purposes of specific co-curricular or extra-curricular programs.
- The responsible Dean or Master shall:
Financial Arrangements for Student Governments
- Financial arrangements for student governments and the funding of student activities will be organized on a new basis, following a transition period from 1988-89 to 1990-91 inclusive.
- The following student government fees will be levied:
- college student government fees, or equivalent fees, payable by all eligible undergraduate students,
- faculty student government fees payable by all students, as full or associate members, in faculties with student governments recognized under present or new procedures, and
- central student government fees payable by all students as full or associate members.
- The amount of such fees shall be the amount levied in 1988-89 or such other amount as may in the future be authorized by the Student Relations Committee under these regulations.
- Subject to the provisions governing the transition period, each student government will receive as of right a Base Financial Allocation (BFA) equal to [the amount of its authorized levy] times [the number of full time equivalent students it represents].
- During the transition period,
- The university will remit to each previously recognized student government a BFA which is not less than its 1987-88 grant.
- The BFA of a newly recognized student government will be calculated according to a formula authorized by the Student Relations Committee.
- Should financial circumstance permit, after establishing the Student Activities Funds and remitting a BFA to each student government, the university may distribute additional funds to the relevant student governments to assist them in responding to significant changes in revenues and obligations, if any, which may occur during the transition period.
(Note: The Provost will promptly review with all student governments the financial consequences of these transitional measures.)
C. DRAFT REGULATIONS TO BE PROPOSED TO THE STUDENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS
Definitions and Powers
- In these regulations the terms “student government” and “student organization” shall have the same meaning as they do under the relevant Presidential Regulations.
- A “levy” is a requirement imposed on a student to pay a certain sum by way of a nonacademic fee. Payment of a levy is mandatory. By way of example, a student government membership fee or an annual amount for the support of the student centre is a levy.
- In exercising its powers under these regulations, the Student Relations Committee is exercising powers delegated to it by the Board of Governors and by the President.
Approval And Termination Of Levies
- The Student Relations Committee and Board of Governors will authorize a levy:
- by or on behalf of a new or existing student government if it is approved in a referendum;
- by or on behalf of a student organization
- if the levy is approved in a referendum; and
- if the organization meets the reasonable financial and legal criteria set by the Student Relations Committee in order to safeguard the interests of students eligible to pay the levy.
- In the event that a student government is dissolved, or that a student organization ceases to be viable, the Student Relations Committee may
- suspend collection of the levy;
- continue to collect the levy for a period not exceeding one year, to permit the student government to be reconstituted, or student organization to regain viability, and then remit the funds on hand as originally contemplated, or
- in the event that after one year the government is not reconstituted, or the organization has not regained viability, remit any funds on hand to another appropriate student government or organization.
- The Student Relations Committee shall afford a reasonable opportunity to make submissions to representatives of any student government or student organization and, in its discretion, to other affected persons or groups, before taking any action under the provisions described above.
- Upon application by a student government or student organization to vary the amount of, or to terminate its existing levy, the Student Relations Committee shall apply the same procedures as in the case of an application to institute a levy.
- Nothing in these regulations is intended to alter the terms of explicit agreements between the University and student organizations or corporations concerning certain student activities or projects. (Note: Such agreements presently exist with regard to CHRY Community Radio and the Student Centre Corporation of York University.)
- In the event that a student government is dissolved, or that a student organization ceases to be viable, the Student Relations Committee may
- Referenda concerning the recognition or dissolution of student governments or the imposition, alteration or termination of levies, shall be conducted fairly and efficiently so as to ensure that the students affected have a reasonable opportunity to indicate their wishes, and that the University, in acting on the results of the referenda, will in fact be responding to student opinion.
- The Student Relations Committee may approve standards for the conduct of referenda on the recommendation of a Committee comprised of the Provost and the heads of the central student governments. See Guidelines and Procedures for the Conduct of Student Referenda.
- The trust funds, comprising the portion of the central student government levy collected from student constituencies, previously not affiliated with CYSF, will be discontinued forthwith.
D. DRAFT JOINT STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT AND THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS CONCERNING THE ACTIVITIES OF STUDENT GOVERNMENTS AND ORGANIZATIONS AND THEIR FINANCIAL AFFAIRS
- By virtue of the York University Act, the Board of Governors and the President possess and have exercised in concert their respective powers to enact regulations concerning student governments and student organizations, including their activities and financial affairs. It is the intention of the Board and the President that all such regulations should be administered by the Provost and the Student Relations Committee on behalf of both of them.
- The Provost acting under the authority delegated by the President and the Board, has issued regulations concerning minimum standards of accountability in the handling of funds by, or on behalf of student governments and student organizations, and has established procedures for ensuring compliance with these regulations. These regulations and procedures shall have full force and effect as if made by the President and the Board. [A copy of these requirements is appended as “Constitutional Guidelines” below]
- Compliance with the regulations and procedures is a condition of the right to receive a levy, or other funds such as those derived from facilities, activities, or solicitations operated or sponsored by student governments or student organizations.
- To assist both student governments and student organizations, on the one hand, and the university administration on the other, in the proper management of student financial affairs, and acting under the authority of the President and the Student Relations Committee, the Provost has appointed a Financial Liason Officer (Student Affairs).
In keeping with Presidential Regulation Number 4, which underlines the basic standards of democracy, order, responsibility and financial accountability that all student governments and student organizations must adhere to, the following constitutional guidelines have been developed:
- Interpretation: The Constitution should clearly describe the method for its interpretation. (Example: The Council of ___________ shall be the sole authority for the interpretation of the Constitution. The Council shall, however, make all determinations of construction and interpretation with due regard to accepted rules of procedure, ie. Robert’s Rules of Order, etc. The Speaker of the organization, subject to an appeal to the Council, is generally the first source for interpretation of the Constitution.)
- Objectives: The Constitution should clearly state the objectives of the organization. These must be consistent with University policies, federal and provincial laws, as well as the Ontario Human Rights Code.
- Powers: The Constitution should clearly state the powers accorded to the organization and to all members and/or to elected representatives, ie. members of the Council, members of the Executive, etc.
- Membership-Constituency: The Constitution should clearly define constituency membership.
- Membership-Council/Executive: The Constitution should clearly define Council Membership, Executive membership, and/or membership on a Board of Directors, including qualification for membership, terms of office, procedures to deal with vacancies and the responsibilities and privileges associated with membership. Definitions of full vs. associate memberships should be included if applicable. (Example: the voting members of Council are: the President, the Vice-President of Finance, …, etc.)
- Duties of Members: The Constitution should clearly describe the duties of all members of Council and/or of elected representatives. Job descriptions should also be included. (See Number 11). (Example: The duties of the President are …, the duties of the Secretary are …, the duties of the Senators are…, etc.)
- Conflict of Interest: The Constitution should address the issue of conflict of interest for members of the executive, council, and/or members of advisory/management boards.
- Election Procedures: The Constitution should include election procedures to deal with any/all elected positions. These procedures should clearly assign responsibility for calling elections, advertising elections in a manner which ensures that new members of the relevant constituency will have ample opportunity to participate, appointing a Chief Returning Officer (CRO), approving election results and dealing with challenges to elections procedures and/or results. A job description for the CRO should also be provided. Descriptions of nomination procedures, definitions of eligibility to vote, to run for office, campaign guidelines (expenses), ballot and polling procedures, etc. should also be stipulated. Some organizations may wish to specify annual dates for elections within their Constitution, nevertheless they must ensure that elections are well advertised.
- Procedures of Council: The Constitution should include provisions for all Procedures of Council. This may include provisions on how often meetings take place, who has responsibility for calling meetings, chairing meetings (ie. will a speaker be appointed?), setting the agenda, how notice for meetings will be given, how much notice is required for meetings, who has voting privileges at meetings, procedures for proxy voting (if desired), a procedure to deal with a tie vote, quorum requirements, etc. (NOTE: The Constitution should contain a clear and concise statement on quorum requirements for all orders of business. Example: Quorum for meetings of Council, Quorum for meetings of the Elected Officials, etc.)
- Financial Responsibility: The Constitution should clearly delineate financial responsibility. This should include who is to have signing authority, who is to strike the budget, approve the budget, maintain the financial records of the organization, who will prepare financial reports and make them available to members, who is responsible for financial reporting to the Vice-President, (CR/SA), etc.
- Committees: The Constitution should include descriptions of all Committees, including how they are created, who may serve as members, terms of reference for all standing committees, quorum requirements, responsibilities, reporting requirements, etc.
- Allegations of Wrongdoing & Disciplinary Action: The Constitution should include provisions for dealing with allegations against any member of the Council or an elected representative. Provisions should include the circumstances which might dictate disciplinary action: censure, suspension, impeachment and should indicate whose responsibility it will be to hear allegations and/or dictate sanctions. Constitutions which include job descriptions for elected officials will prove useful in determining breach of responsibility should this become necessary. Provisions for replacing elected officials (by-elections) if and when vacancies occur should also be included. Conflict of interest guidelines with regard to procedures of Council, serving as an elected official and/or as an employee of the organization may also prove useful.
- Amendment Procedures: The Constitution should include Amendment Procedures. Specifics should state how much notice is required to introduce changes to the Constitution and/or by-laws, voting procedures to approve changes, quorum, etc.
- External Affiliations: If necessary, the Constitution should include descriptions of any affiliations and/or jurisdictional relationships. (Example: memberships in outside organizations, ie. OFS/CFS.)
- Employees: The Constitution should include job descriptions for employees of the organization. Descriptions should indicate employees’ responsibilities, hours of work, etc., as well as who has responsibility for hiring, supervising and disciplining employees.
- Employment Standards All funded organizations with paid employees must conform with the Employment Standards Act.
- Custodian of the Constitution Each funded group must designate an official “custodian of the constitution” for purposes of continuity between elected officials and for ensuring timely review and reporting regarding the Constitution. Where appropriate, a member of the Dean’s or Master’s staff could fulfill this role. If the group has permanent employees, one of their own staff members may be charged with this custodial role.
- Advisory/Management Boards Organizations who own and operate small businesses such as pubs, coffee shops, newspapers, games rooms, etc. should establish advisory/management boards to oversee these operations. Advisory/management boards provide student governments with an opportunity to manage their businesses in an appropriate arms-length relationship from the businesses. Advisory/management boards should ideally be composed of students, staff, faculty and alumni who can lend their expertise to the organization. Conflict of interest guidelines should be adhered to when selecting membership for these advisory/management boards.