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Referendum – February 2021
The results are in.

Thanks to all 737 people who voted in the 2021 referendum.

All 10 propositions on the ballot passed with large majorities. You can see a full breakdown of the results by proposition below. We appreciate the level of interaction with vote.

Bylaw Amendment: Executive Vacancies, Including Absences

  • No 24 (3.7%)
  • Yes 632 (96.3%)


  • Answered Questions 656 (89.0%)
  • Abstain 81 (11.0%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Councillor Training Procedures

  • No 15 (2.3%)
  • Yes 646 (97.7%)


  • Answered Questions 661 (89.7%)
  • Abstain 76 (10.3%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Bylaw 3.10 and Others Regarding Rights of Members

  • No 22 (3.3%)
  • Yes 650 (96.7%)


  • Answered Questions 672 (91.2%)
  • Abstain 65 (8.8%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Strategic Framework

  • No 13 (2.0%)
  • Yes 639 (98.0%)


  • Answered Questions 652 (88.5%)
  • Abstain 85 (11.5%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Executives on the Executive Oversight Committee

  • No 20 (3.1%)
  • Yes 634 (96.9%)


  • Answered Questions 654 (88.7%)
  • Abstain 83 (11.3%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Written Resolutions of Council

  • No 26 (4.3%)
  • Yes 576 (95.7%)


  • Answered Questions 602 (81.7%)
  • Abstain 135 (18.3%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Honorary Membership

  • No 37 (5.5%)
  • Yes 631 (94.5%)


  • Answered Questions 668 (90.6%)
  • Abstain 69 (9.4%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Amending Policy Manual and Bylaws

  • No 82 (13.4%)
  • Yes 528 (86.6%)


  • Answered Questions 610 (82.8%)
  • Abstain 127 (17.2%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: GSFA Fee Referendum

  • No 117 (17.2%)
  • Yes 563 (82.8%)


  • Answered Questions 680 (92.3%)
  • Abstain 57 (7.7%)
  • Total 737

Bylaw Amendment: Executive Elections

  • No 23 (3.9%)
  • Yes 571 (96.1%)


  • Answered Questions 594 (80.6%)
  • Abstain 143 (19.4%)
  • Total 737


The full motions for each of the 10 questions in the referendum, can be found below. There is also a brief description of the intended purpose of each change. Each motion has three voting options:

  • In favour
  • Oppose
  • Abstain

Voting is through the AMS Simplyvoting system: HERE

1 BYLAW AMENDMENT: Executive Vacancies, Including Absences

EXPLANATION: Currently, the process to address unexpected and prolonged absences of the President are unclear and fundamentally up to the executives. The new proposed system introduces checks and balances into the system, by expanding the role of the Executive Oversight Committee in the process, which is composed of up to 5 councillors and 5 ordinary members of the Society (graduate students who are not councillors) and the Financial & Executive Oversight Officer. Clarifications of definitions are also introduced into the Bylaws.

WHEREAS the current policy on Executive Vacancies is unclear,
WHEREAS the poorly defined ability of the VP Academic & University Affairs (VPUAA) to perform the duties of the President in the event of their prolonged absence of the President has caused multiple conflicts in the history of the GSS,
WHEREAS there should be a contingency for what occurs when both the President and the VPUAA are unavailable,
WHEREAS the proposed procedure has been extensively consulted with the President and relevant oversight bodies of the GSS,
BIRT Bylaw 8.4 and Bylaw 8.5.4.a be repealed and replaced with the 8.4 and 8.5.4.a included in Revision Form – Bylaw 8.4 ExecutiveVacancies.pdf, and Bylaw 7.6.9 be adopted as described in Revision Form – Bylaw 8.4 ExecutiveVacancies.pdf

2 BYLAW AMENDMENT: Councillor Training Procedures

EXPLANATION: Councillors are expected to have the minimum necessary knowledge to perform their duties. To facilitate onboarding, an online self-paced session is added and the requirements for in person training made more flexible. Councillors are now able to be seated at any month of the year, which is consistent with current practice, as opposed to the previous system which technically meant the exception to the rule was being followed (still within the rules) than the core process.

WHEREAS the administration of online training for Councillors would provide a simpler and more consistent training experience than the current practice of arranging small group orientations with the President,
WHEREAS in-person orientation, and particularly the formal Councillor orientation sessions, still provides valuable training for Councillors,
WHEREAS a combination of initial online training followed by a formal orientation session provides the best combination of allowing new Councillors to assume their roles promptly and ensure they receive quality training,
BIRT Bylaw 7.2.4 be repealed and replaced with the following:
7.2.4 Seating of new Councillors shall occur upon the completion of an online training course. Councillors are required to attend the next scheduled in-person Council orientation session following their seating. These sessions will be held at least three times a year. If a Councillor is unable to attend this orientation meeting, they are required to make arrangements for a make-up orientation with the President, which should occur within one month of the missed orientation. If a candidate misses the orientation session, and has not made alternative arrangements for receiving an in-person orientation, the President may recommend to Council that the Councillor be removed by special resolution. The Councillor must be given 10 days’ notice that their unseating is being
considered, and must be given an opportunity to present their case to Council either in person or in writing.

3 BYLAW AMENDMENT: Bylaw 3.10 and Others Regarding Rights of Members

EXPLANATION: These changes clarify the roles and rights of members, making it cleared that all members have the right to attend the general meeting, but only ordinary members (currently enrolled graduate students) have voting rights. Other members are for example honorary members, who have lifelong membership to the society in recognition of outstanding service, and while they are invited to participate and provide input, they are not expected to continue to have a vote.

WHEREAS the Graduate Student Society of UBC Vancouver represents and advocates on behalf of all UBC Graduate Students,
WHEREAS it is appropriate that only current UBC graduate students (Ordinary Members) be voting members of the Society with the right to vote in AGM and referenda and to propose items for the AGM,
WHEREAS this should be clarified in the Bylaws,
WHEREAS to be consistent with the Bylaws and internally, the Policy Manual should state that all members may attend Council meetings and that only Ordinary Members may act as (voting) proxies in a Committee meeting,
BIRT Bylaw 3.10, Bylaw 5.1.3, Bylaw 5.2.1, Policy 3.1.2, Policy 3.2.2, and Policy 7.1.3 be repealed and replaced with the respective text included in Bylaw_3_10_RightsMembers.pdf

4 BYLAW AMENDMENT: Strategic Framework

EXPLANATION: In the last years, the Society has expanded its strategic planning and oversight process. These changes solidify these improvements into the bylaws and obligates the Society to make the Strategic Plan public by publishing in the Society’s website. The plan is currently public and published, but there is no obligation to do so, these changes ensure continued transparency in the future.

WHEREAS the Bylaws refer to a “Strategic Framework,” but Council believes that it is more appropriate that we have a “Strategic Plan,” a term which implies a higher level of actionable detail,
WHEREAS the Strategic Plan can best be distributed on the GSS website,
BIRT all references to the “Strategic Framework” in Bylaw 8.5.2.i and Bylaw 14 be changed to the
“Strategic Plan,” and Bylaws 14.3 and 14.4 be revised to read as follows:
14.3 The Strategic Plan shall be published on the Society’s website.
14.4 The President, with the assistance of the Executive Committee, the Governance and
Accountability Committee, and the Society’s staff, shall be responsible for ensuring that
the provisions of the Strategic Plan are implemented.

5 BYLAW AMENDMENT: Executives on the Executive Oversight Committee

EXPLANATION: The Executive Oversight Committee (EOC) has an oversight role of the elected Executives of the Society (President and Vice Presidents) to ensure they are acting in accordance with the constitution, bylaws, policies and in the best interest of the Society and Graduate Students. It is common sense that executives should not be allowed to sit in this committee, as it would be an immediate conflict of interest, but currently there is no provision to ban this. These changes ban current executives from sitting in EOC. The Financial and Executive Oversight Officer, while technically an Executive, is appointed by Council and leads this oversight process, as well as financial oversight, which is why he is allowed, and obligated (as laid out in policy), to sit on the committee.

WHEREAS there is currently no explicit restriction against an executive other than the Financial and Executive Oversight Officer sitting on the Executive Oversight Committee,
WHEREAS an executive other than the Financial and Executive Oversight Officer sitting on the Executive Oversight Committee would be a clear conflict of interest and should be firmly prohibited,
WHEREAS furthermore, Bylaw 8.5.2 makes the President a member of every committee, without
excluding Executive Oversight Committee,
BIRT Bylaw 9.1.2 be revised to read: “Membership and terms of references for the Society’s standing committees shall be outlined in the Policy Manual, except that no executive other than the Financial and Executive Oversight Officer shall sit on the Executive Oversight Committee.”
BIFRT Bylaw (regarding President’s duties) be revised to read “being an ex officio member of every committee, taskforce, and working group of the Society, except the Executive Oversight Committee;”

6 BYLAW AMENDMENT: Written Resolutions of Council

EXPLANATION: There is currently extraordinarily little direction in the bylaws pointing how the GSS council should conduct voting outside of Council meetings, which may be necessary at times. These changes clarify the necessary threshold to accept a resolution as valid.

WHEREAS the procedure for making decisions outside of a formal Council meeting should be clarified based on the needs of the GSS and the provisions of provincial law regulating Societies,
WHEREAS only the President, as the person responsible for Meetings of Council, should have the ability to address business to Council outside of a formal meeting,
BIRT Bylaw 7.6.8 be revised to read: “Any ordinary resolution distributed to all voting Councillors by the President, consented to in writing by two thirds of all voting Councillors, and placed in the minutes of Council is as valid and effective as if regularly passed at a meeting of Council. Email is considered a valid form of obtaining written consent.”

7 BYLAW AMENDMENT: Honorary Membership

EXPLANATION: The minimum time of service to the GSS Council to be eligible for honorary membership is changed from 24 to 18 months. The fact that the months do not have to be consecutive is clarified. This change is particularly important for Masters students, who may not be able to serve for a full 24 months, but still make significant contributions. This change would allow for these individuals to be recognized. Honorary membership is a recognition only, as it does not grant the ability to serve in Council, Committees, or as an Executive.

WHEREAS individuals may make significant contributions to Council in less than two years, in capacities other than serving as a Councillor, and Council should have greater discretion to recognize such contributions,
BIRT Bylaw 3.2.1 be revised to read: “Council may by ordinary resolution confer honorary membership upon any person Council may wish to honour for outstanding service to the Society, provided that person has served on Council for at least eighteen months. These months do not have to be consecutive.”


EXPLANATION: There are two parts to this amendment. First, the changes create a process to correct typographical errors without the need for a review cycle. Secondly, it removes the requirement to circulate proposed policy amendments 7 days in advance to being considered in a Council meeting. This is since there have not been, at least in the last 15 months, ever a comment on policy from the general membership outside of the Council meeting and the agenda is made public as well 48 hours in advance to the meeting, which includes proposed changes. The 7-day requirement is a hard deadline that sometimes creates delays in processing policy amendments which may have some urgency. The approval process is not changed, only the required notices.

WHEREAS the Policy Manual and Bylaws contain typographical and formatting errors,
WHEREAS correcting these errors, where they do not affect meaning, should not require as stringent an approval process as a change in the meaning of the text, but should still include checks to ensure the process is not abused,
WHEREAS furthermore, the requirements for providing 7 days notice of a Policy Manual amendment has in the past prevented policy amendments from being brought expediently to Council,
WHEREAS in the past 15 months we have received no comments from the general membership on proposed policy amendments as a result of this notice,
WHEREAS requiring notice of the policy amendment to be included in the Council agenda, which is made available on the website 48 hours in advance of the meeting, is sufficient to ensure these amendments are properly considered, and
WHEREAS temporary amendments and suspensions of policy are an emergency procedure and should not require notice,
BIRT Bylaw 2.2 be adopted as described in the Revision Form – Bylaw 2 and 13 AmendmentsProcedure.pdf (“the amendment form”).
BIFRT Bylaw 13.1.4 and 13.1.5 be repealed and replaced with Bylaws 13.1.4 through 13.1.6 as described in the amendment form, and Bylaw 13.3.2 be repealed and replaced with Bylaw 13.3.2 as described in the amendment form.
BIFRT Policy 1.2 be repealed and replaced with the Policy 1.2 contained in the amendment form.


EXPLANATION: The Graduate Student Financial Aid ( is a program which started operating in May of 2019 and provides financial assistance to graduate students who are experiencing unforeseen financial challenges. Funding to the program is currently at the discretion of the Executives and the financial capacity of the Society. While the program has been funded since it was created, there is no guarantee that it will continue in the future. The proposed fee of 2 dollars a year would create a dedicated financial resource to fund this program. These fees could only be used for this purpose and no other, which would guarantee resources for the continued operation of the program.

WHEREAS the GSS began administering a Graduate Student Financial Aid (GSFA) in 2019, and
WHEREAS the GSFA’s purpose is to provide assistance to graduate students who face unexpected financial hardship, as described in Policy 15, and
WHEREAS currently, funding for the GSFA is allocated from the GSS operational budget, under the recommendation of the Vice President University and Academic Affairs (VP UAA), subject to review and approval by the House Finance Committee (HF) and the GSS Council, and
WHEREAS this funding structure represents a severe risk to the continuity of the fund.
BIRT a direct annual fee of $2.00 be created for members of the GSS effective immediately, to be collected and reserved for funding the Graduate Student Financial Aid. The fee shall be adjusted annually according to CPI starting from the year after the implementation of the fee.


EXPLANATION: There are four parts to these changes, all designed to provide clarity, preserve the integrity of the Society, that of the Executive roles and of their election process.
First, the Financial and Executive Oversight Officer (FEOO) is appointed by Council in an August to July cycle, a deliberately different cycle than the President and the Vice Presidents. This ensures that there is a level of continuity in the Executive team when transition takes place. This change prevents the sitting FEOO from running for another executive position unless he resigns from his office prior or during the December council meeting, the latest, providing enough time for Council to appoint a new FEOO and ensure continuity.
Secondly, holding executive offices in both the AMS and the GSS would constitute a conflict of interest, since the societies collaborate, but at times, may have different priorities. The AMS disallows this for all constituencies (e.g. AES, SUS, EUS, etc…), however, given the different status of the GSS, the latter may not technically be covered by AMS provisions. Hence, these amendments would clarify that holding offices in both societies is not allowed.

Thirdly, there are currently and technically no provisions to prevent a single person from holding multiple executive offices in the GSS. While common sense dictates that a person should not do this and it has not yet happened, these changes would strictly forbid it. Holding more than one office could lead to concentration of power and the loss of checks that are built into the system to prevent misconduct. Note that this change does not prevent a person from temporarily discharging the duties of more than one office in the event of an emergency.
Lastly, it clarified that the authority over the election process lies with the GSS Council, which may delegate the operationalization of these responsibility, typically to the elections committee and the Electoral and Student Engagement Officer.


WHEREAS the Bylaws currently provide no procedure for preventing a conflict of interest in the event that a Financial and Executive Oversight Officer wishes to run or a different executive office before the end of their term as FEOO,
WHEREAS in the event of a resignation, a current executive might be presented with the opportunity for a second office, and this should also be prevented,
WHEREAS the current Bylaws do not prevent GSS executives from holding an executive office in the AMS,
WHEREAS holding executive offices in both the GSS and AMS could present a conflict of interest and should be prevented,
WHEREAS the following mandates a minimum standard for these situations,
BIRT Bylaw 8.2.2 and 8.2.3 be revised to read:
8.2.2 The Financial and Executive Oversight officer will be elected at the July council meeting and take office on August 31st. Anyone holding the position of Financial and Executive Oversight Officer after the December Council meeting prior to an executive election is ineligible to run for any other executive office in the GSS for that election. The Financial and Executive Oversight Officer must announce their intent to resign no later than 2 weeks before the December Council if they choose to contest for another executive office.
8.2.3 The responsibility for proper conduct of elections shall lie with Council. Council may delegate the associated tasks and decision making through the Policy Manual.
BIFRT Bylaws 8.2.8 and 8.2.9 be adopted as follows:
8.2.8 No person shall hold more than one executive office within the GSS simultaneously. This does not preclude an executive temporarily performing the duties of another executive.
8.2.9 No person shall simultaneously hold an executive office in the GSS and AMS. Any person who holds both an executive office in the AMS and an executive office in the GSS will be dismissed effectively immediately from their executive office in the GSS. Any person who announces a candidacy for an AMS executive position is immediately disqualified from the GSS election for that same year.

Study Room, Thea Koerner House, UBC

GSS Loft, Rm. 4202 of AMS Student Nest, UBC

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Thea’s Lounge, Thea Koerner House, UBC

Penthouse, Thea Koerner House, UBC