The General Assembly (GA) is a space for all GSA members to come together and make collective decisions about the association that are binding. GA is a time for our members to debate and discuss the operations of the GSA while bringing new viewpoints to the floor.
Below you will find the benefits of the GA, how the event works, as well as frequently asked procedural questions about participating in the GA.
Click here to see the minutes of the 2021 General Assembly.
Benefits of the General Assembly
The number one benefit of the GA is that it aids in maintaining a direct democracy within our organization. While our elections allow graduate students to elect their GSA officials, the active practice of democracy involves more than annually casting your vote.
At its core, the GA provides an open forum for discussion and debate which allows for a collective consideration of new opinions and solutions so that the GSA community can work together to better the lives of graduate students at Concordia.
Additionally, a General Assembly has many strengths, such as:
- The GA is a for of direct democracy – every member is welcome to propose ideas, articulate their position on a given issue, and contribute to the creation of better and more diverse policies for Concordia graduate students.
- The GA is an open forum for informed discussion and debate – members should arrive ready to discuss and contribute so as to come to the best possible outcome for our community.
- The GA diffuses power – our executives and/or council members cannot decide everything on behalf of the entire graduate student community. In all representative systems, those elected must be held accountable to their members.
- The GA is accessible – A GA can be called at any time by GSA Representatives, Department/Faculty Level Associations, or by any GSA member who collects a minimum amount of signatures (5% of GSA members or approximately 300 members) as required by our bylaws.
The Rules of the General Assembly
In order to make sure that everything runs smoothly during the General Assembly, there are a number of people working. These include:
- The Chair – the chair facilitates the meeting while ensuring that all members are treated with respect and dignity. The chair is also responsible for enforcing the procedural rules, ensuring that members do not abuse privilege, and that the meeting goes through the complete agenda.
- The Minute-Taker – the minute-taker keeps a clear record of all decisions taken, formats the record into minutes, and ensures that the record of the GA is available to all students on the GSA website.
- The Mood-Watcher – the mood-watcher is responsible for keeping track of the moods and reactions of GA participants in order to encourage equitable participation. They are also responsible for ensuring that every member that would like to speak and present their point of view has the opportunity to do so.
- The Noise-Watchers – Sometimes our GAs are so large that it is impossible for the Chair to see everyone in the meeting. In these meetings, noise-watchers are positioned to remind people to be respectful and to maintain a sense of decorum.
Note: When there are bu-elections in the GA, additional staff (Scrutineers & a Chief Returning Officer) are brought in to ensure that elections unfold fairly and smoothly.
General Assembly Participation FAQ
How Can I Propose a “Motion”?
A motion is an action that you want people in the room to vote on.
- Raise your hand and when the Chair recognizes you, say: “I want to propose a motion to [your idea here]”;
- The Chair then asks, “Does anyone second this motion?” Anyone can then raise their hand and say their name to “second the motion” (meaning they support the discussion of this motion, even if they may not agree with the idea of the motion).
- Then there is a discussion about this particular motion where anyone can voice their opinion.
- At any point, someone can stop the discussion by saying “I’d like to call the question” (which means they’d like to vote right away). A vote then happens to see if people are ready to vote. If 50% +1 vote (simple majority)that they are ready, the vote for the motion takes place next.
- The Chair will ask people if anyone opposes the motion: If no one raises their voting card, then it is assumed that the vote passes unanimously, since no one opposes it. If even one person raises their voting card, a vote will take place.
- The Chair will ask students to raise their voting cards to vote on whether or not they support the motion at this point, you can either vote for the motion, against the motion, or you can abstain (choose not to vote either way for or against the motion). The simple majority will carry the motion.
How Can I Make an Amendment?
An amendment aims to change a motion that is being proposed/discussed.
- During the discussion for any vote (before the vote happens, in point #3 above), anyone can propose to modify the motion by saying for example “I’d like to propose an amendment to change [your idea here] of the motion.”
- Keep in mind that amendments should not completely change the meaning or topic of a main motion. If this is the case, the amendment the Chair would instead recommend that you bring your idea up as a completely separate motion afterwards.
- The Chair then asks “does anyone second this amendment?” Someone must then raise their hand and give their name to “second the amendment” (meaning they support the discussion of this amendment, even if they don’t support the amendment itself)
- Then there is a discussion about this particular amendment where anyone can voice their opinion about it.
- At any point, someone can stop the discussion about the amendment by saying “I’d like to call the question” (which means they’d like to vote right away, on the amendment.) A vote is then taken to see if people are ready to vote on the amendment. If 50% +1 vote that they are ready, the vote for the amendment happens next.
- The voting process here will happen in the same way as the process in #5 above. If 50% + 1 vote yes, the amendment passes, which means that the motion is now amended (changed). If not, then the original motion stays as it was.
- The discussion would then continue about the original motion (which would be slightly modified if the amendment passed, or would remain the same if the amendment did not pass), and vote on it (and you would return to point #3 above).
How to Ask for Clarification?
If you want clarification or more information on an issue being discussed by the person speaking, you can raise your hand at any point and say: “Point of information!”
How to Address a Point of Physical or Psychological Comfort, Safety, etc. that is Preventing you from Participating in the Meeting.
If the room is too cold or too noisy, or something is blocking your view of the projector, you can raise your hand at any point and say: “Point of privilege!” If it is absolutely necessary for you to do so, you can interrupt the meeting to bring up a point of privilege. It is then the Chair’s duty to ensure that this is addressed.
How to Address a Rule Being Broken?
If you see someone do something that goes against the rules of procedure, such as voting twice, or proposing a new motion while another motion is being discussed, you can bring it to the Chair’s attention by saying: “Point of order!” However, you can only call a point of order immediately after the error is made.
Still have questions about GSA General Assemblies? Ask us here!