Call Special Meeting to Reconsider University Club Dissolution

Victory

Call Special Meeting to Reconsider University Club Dissolution

This petition made change with 284 supporters!

Nadeem Jamali started this petition to University Club President

A May 14 Zoom meeting of the University Club at the University of Saskatchewan decided to permanently shut down the Club as of July 1, 2021. 

Some members who attended this meeting report that there are several concerns about the way this came about:

- Meeting Notice: The subject line of the May 3 emailed notice of the meeting just said "Recommendation to close the University Club."  The club was already closed because of COVID-19 restrictions.  There had been more attention-grabbing subject lines in the recent past about a lot more mundane matters, such as "Important message from the University Club Board" sent last December to share an update on how the Club was faring during the pandemic.

- Accounting of Votes: There was no careful accounting of votes at the meeting.  There were about 60 participants in the Zoom meeting, but some were clearly not members.  University Club Bylaws clearly state who is eligible to vote.  Only members who have been paying their dues are allowed to vote.  It is not clear who was invited to the meeting: all ~800 pre-pandemic members (who may or may not have been currently paying dues), the ~400 current members (some of whom may be "Friends of the Club" members, ineligible to vote)?  Why was the past manager from half a decade ago invited to the meeting to speak in support of closure?  Who else was specifically invited to the members' meeting to drum up support for the shutdown?  Was the required quorum of 20 (yes, 20, to shut down a club of 800 members!) voting-eligible members met?  The Non-Profit Corporations Act requires a show of hands to show support for a motion.  Why did the chair only ask people opposed to the motion to identify themselves?  What about abstentions?  

- The Justification: There have been vague suggestions across campus about the Club's debt.  There is no debt.  There have been losses for sure, particularly during the pandemic closures; however, there are sufficient reserves in place to easily cover them.  Another justification was that to receive COVID support, the Club had to stop receiving some supports from the university.  They could have been reinstated at the end of the pandemic.  The final justification is that there is no institutional commitment to the Club any more.  The institution is the people who make up the institution, not the handful of senior administrators.  Besides, why would the senior administration of an institution that is serious about collaborative activity not have a commitment to the Club, especially when there are no alternatives?  Where else can the Club's activity go?  And when?  

- The Losses: They had not been huge.  A massive 2018 survey of the campus community showed wide enthusiastic support for the University Club.  A new membership structure had been designed, and strategies developed to make the Club profitable again.  None of these changes got a chance to be implemented because of the pandemic.  Some at the May 14 meeting asked why we couldn't just hit the "pause button" until the end of the pandemic.  Some offered to donate to the Club to enable just that.  The board's response was essentially that the wheels are already turning, that the staff have already started the final clean-up... even before the meeting to consider the Club's dissolution had taken place!

The University Club was -- is -- an important part of life at the University of Saskatchewan.  This is where people meet to have their chats about research collaborations, upcoming projects.  This is where we take our graduate students to celebrate successful defences, where we take our visiting colleagues and our faculty candidates for lunch, where we take our hard-working staff to show our appreciation.  This is where we have our Christmas parties, our retirement celebrations, our book launches.  This is where we have our work retreats.  This is where we take the attendees of international events we organize at the university.  This is also where many of us walk over almost every day to have lunch, a drink, hoping to run into one another, to catch up.  

The Club is so critically important also because there is no alternative.  The area surrounding the University of Saskatchewan is a virtual desert with nothing to take the Club's place.  

The Club -- with 800 members as recently as about a year ago -- is far too important for a small group of people of unclear voting eligibility to get together at a poorly advertised meeting to hold a careless vote and just permanently dissolve. 

This is not the way to do it.

We request the University Club President to call another Special Meeting to reconsider the May 14th decision.

Sincerely, 

Members of the University of Saskatchewan Community

Victory

This petition made change with 284 supporters!