OMG UPDATE: Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get updates on updates!

Updated on Thursday, October 9

#19914

OMG: Whoever wrote the 'minutes' from the last Feds March General Meeting seriously needs a lesson in good minuting.
The minutes on Feds' website are a 106-page word-for-word monstrosity that nobody will read!
Good minutes outline what was discussed, what key points were raised in debate, and what decisions were made. They are clear and concise.

Transcriptions =/= minutes. WTF, Feds.

14 comments

  1. OP here.

    I'll explain this post now in just a *touch* more detail.

    First of all, it's important to ask "why do we take minutes at meetings in the first place?" I submit the following reasons:

    1) To have a clear record of what decisions were made and what concerns were raised, so that those who are responsible for implementing said decisions/addressing said concerns can be held to account;
    2) To provide accurate information to those who weren't at the meeting;
    3) As a reference for those whose jobs/roles are affected by decisions made at the meeting, as well as for members attending future meetings (i.e. a historical record).

    Minutes are important, since as time passes they become the only remaining record of what was actually discussed.

    Now, why are the March 2014 General Meeting minutes a problem? Quite simply - they aren't minutes. It's a word-for-word transcription of the meeting.
    Transcriptions are useful too! They are important as source material, and can be invaluable if the accuracy of the minutes ever fall into dispute. But they are not, themselves, minutes. Why? Because they sacrifice CLARITY in the name of DETAIL, and the relevant points get lost amidst a sea of irrelevancy that nobody will ever read.

    GOOD minutes should consist of the following things:

    1) Date, time, place of gathering (clearly stated at the top of the page), including the time the meeting was called to order.
    2) Who were the officers at the meeting (chair, secretary, etc.), and who were all the attendees and their proxies?
    3) What were the items discussed (general discussion topics, FULL TEXT of ALL motions, including the names of the movers & seconders for each motion)?
    4) What were the concerns raised on both sides during discussion on each item?
    5) What were the decisions made (i.e. votes taken)? If the vote was counted, the count should be recorded there.
    6) The times of any recesses taken, as well as the time of adjournment.

    Detailed enough that you know what happened, clear enough that you can easily find the detail you're looking for. That is what makes good minutes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So what can you do about this travesty in Feds' record keeping?

      It's simple: Recognize, Object, Demand a Rewrite.

      RECOGNIZE that minutes matter. At the Feds AGM on October 22nd, when the 106 pages of 'Minutes from the last meeting' have to be approved, raise an OBJECTION to the way the minutes have been presented. DEMAND A REWRITE by the Secretary of the Corporation (the VP Internal or a designate he appoints to act on his behalf) that reflects what minutes *should* be. Those minutes will be approved at the 2015 March General Meeting.

      Delete
    2. A good example of well-written minutes:

      Take a look at the website of the University Secretariat. The minutes for the Board of Governors, the Senate, and the university committees are all written by professionals who've been trained as administrators and corporate lawyers and know how to do this sort of thing. It's not *exactly* what Feds needs, but there are worse models they could go off of.

      Delete
    3. Are you and idiot? They did it right.

      Delete
  2. they may be poor minutes logistically, but i thought they were HILARIOUS to read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well... yes. The MGM was filled with all sorts of "hilarity." No arguments there!

      I'm fine with there being a transcript of the meeting, or an archive of the livestream. I just want minutes that are accessible.

      Everything about Feds this year has become less transparent and less accessible. They have no policy oversight, Council has no power, the Board meetings are closed to the public, and whatever minutes are available from any of this are completely unavailable to the public!

      Delete
    2. I have to check if I still have my notes from that meeting. 6 motions deep! 6!

      Delete
  3. It is totally disgraceful how the current executive have been handling transparency so far this year. They campaigned on being open to students but make no efforts to exactly that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 3, I don't actually think that's the result of anything malicious. I just think this exec never understood what 'transparency' actually meant.

      I've talked to them before; they think the solution is to be more socially accessible. So they keep their doors open when they're in their office, they try to get out in person to as many club and society events as they can, as well as Feds-run events like Bomber Nights, etc.

      Their belief is that, for Feds to be more open, they as executives need to personally connect with as many students as possible, as much as possible, and keep students engaged in conversations about where Feds should be headed.

      Unfortunately, while these goals are admirable, that's not what transparency *actually* means, and this exec never understood that.

      Transparency boils down to 3 things:
      1) Knowing (or being able to easily find out and clearly understand) how YOUR money (i.e. the Feds budget) is being spent;
      2) Knowing exactly what YOU are getting for every dollar of YOUR money spent;
      3) Knowing exactly what Feds considers to be student issues, what its stances are on each of those issues, and what it's actually DOING to address the issues.

      In an effective student union, the executive understand the importance of transparency as described above, and work hard to promote it. Then, with this knowledge in hand, an empowered (ideally) student body is able to work to change anything they don't agree with.

      Delete
  4. This document is amazing.

    Thanks OP, for being someone other than me who cares.

    (Actually, I am of the view that minutes are a record only of what was done, not what was said at all. But I acknowledge that a summary of debate can be useful and, if done well, does not significantly impede the clairity).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think I'll ever learn how to format things on this site properly. Sigh.

      Delete
    2. Actually your peculiar formatting managed to make your post easier to read!
      Glad you could sink your teeth into this, Mr. Hunt.

      Delete
  5. Yeah, everything Feds sux.. amirite?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OP here,

      I know you're just being facetious, but I'm going to give a serious answer anyway.

      I really like Feds! I believe in a lot of what they do, I like the Executive, and I have spent time on this site before railing against the people who dismiss it offhand as a 'useless circlejerk.' Feds has improved in great leaps and bounds in the time I've been a student here, and that makes me glad!

      ...But it still has problems, and I'm not going to be shy about calling them out on the things that really bother me.

      Delete