TCDSU Council loses quorum after disagreement over voting process

Council ended early after the meeting lost its quorum, with 10 motions deferred

10 motions have been deferred to the next Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Council after the meeting lost its quorum this evening.

Council ended early after a call to check whether quorum was met among attendants at tonight’s Council.

An Extraordinary Council Meeting has been called for this Friday.

The quorum was called after a disagreement among members over whether a vote on a motion to bring forward a long-term policy should be rerun.

Two motions on long-term policies were proposed at Council this evening; one on taking a stance against accepting gambling advertisements (Motion A) and one on lobbying for College to divest from arms and weaponry manufacturers (Motion J).

Motion A, which was the first motion voted on during Council, passed, but a technical confusion impacted the number of members who voted on the motion.

Council had made a single poll prior to the meeting which included all motions discussed, and it was argued that some students may have failed to vote due to confusion over the technology. 

The vote was run a second time and passed again, with 86 of 123 members voting in favour.

Between the first and second votes on the motion, several other motions were voted on, including Motion J.

Motion J, which would have required two-thirds of members to vote in favour, failed. 74 of 128 members voted in favour, while 25 voted against.

29 members in attendance had not cast a vote, and it was suggested that it was unclear whether those members had deliberately abstained or if they were no longer engaged with Council.

Deputy STEM Convenor and Education Officer-elect Bev Genockey called for a recount of the votes on Motion J after Council agreed to re-vote on Motion A to reject gambling advertisements.

Chair of Council Yannick Gloster ruled that a rerun of the vote on Motion J was not necessary, saying that the confusion related to voting on Motion A, which was challenged by László Molnárfi, a Junior Fresh PPES class rep and the seconder of Motion J.

The Junior Fresh Law class rep stated that it was “entirely possible” that “a significant number” of attendees to the Zoom council meeting had appeared for attendance purposes, and that the lack of voting was not due to personal abstention but rather because the students were not present at the meeting. 

Article 4.11.1 of TCDSU constitution states that “quorum for meetings of Union bodies shall be one third of the actual members of the body”. 

After the quorum failed, TCDSU Education Officer Megan O’Connor asked the Chair if she could call an emergency meeting of Council. This request was refused on the basis that the meeting had already ended and calling an emergency meeting also requires quorum to be met.

After Council ended, some members remained on the Zoom call, and a petition was launched to call an Extraordinary Meeting of Council.

Under the TCDSU Constitution, an ECM “may be called by petition to the Secretary of Council signed by at least one fifth of the actual members of Council which shall state the purpose of the
meeting and include the proposed agenda”.

Speaking to Trinity News after Council, O’Connor said that “quorum was called during a discussion and although there were sufficient people in the call, an insufficient number of attendees responded to the attendance poll”.

“Seeing as Council was then deemed inquorate, it ended,” O’Connor said.

“We immediately launched a petition to hold an emergency meeting of Council which requires one-fifth members as per our constitution, and as one-fifth were present still in the zoom, it immediately passed ,” she said.

The next Council meeting has now been called for Friday, April 16 at 7pm.

The petition was launched by Communications and Marketing Officer Philly Homes.

In a statement on behalf of the union, Holmes said that “the purpose of this Extraordinary Council Meeting is to address all unaddressed motions/agenda items from Council 6”.

“The petition passed a simple yea/nea vote with more than one-fifth of the total voting members of Council voting in favour of holding an extraordinary meeting of TCDSU Council. For clarity, the quota for this petition includes all voting members of council and not just those in attendance at Council,” Holmes said.

Council this evening lasted approximately an hour and a half before the quorum vote was called.

20 motions were on the agenda, 10 of which had not been voted on before quorum was lost.

Motions on Open Fora, assessments and online proctoring, the higher education bill and reducing Trinity’s carbon footprint were missed due to the quorum loss, meaning they will instead need be presented at next Council.

Speaking to Trinity News, Senior Fresh Physical Sciences class representative Dillon Broaders, who had proposed the carbon footprint motion, said that “tonight’s events have damaged the reputation of Council. It was completely unnecessary”.

“It was chaotic and I hope this is not a trend,” Broaders said.

A motion on school and programme convenor meetings with class reps, another motion on unpaid internships and a motion on supporting students in Myanmar were among those deferred. 

The quorum loss also meant that motions on amendments to a motion from 2018/2019 and to amend the Ents Committee’s terms of reference have been deferred.

Additional reporting by Kate Henshaw, Jamie Cox, Bonnie Gill, Connie Roughan, and Sarah Emerson.

Lauren Boland

Lauren Boland was the Editor of the 67th volume of Trinity News. She is an English Literature and Sociology graduate and previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

Shannon Connolly

Shannon Connolly is the Editor-in-Chief of the 69th volume Trinity News, and a Senior Sophister student of English Literature and Philosophy. She previously served as Deputy Editor, News Editor and Assistant News Editor.

Audrey Brown

Audrey Brown is a Senior Fresher English Studies student, and the Deputy News Editor of Trinity News.