Earth Centre taken to constitutional interpretation

AMS Judicial Committee convenes to discuss Centre’s status as a revenue-generating entity

Credit: 
Via Wiki Commons

The AMS Judicial Committee gathered on Feb. 12 in the AMS Boardroom for a public hearing to bring the Earth Centre’s status to judicial review, by request of Earth Centre staff.

In 2015, the Earth Centre was declared to be “primarily revenue generating” as a club, and therefore brought under the AMS Commission of Environmental Affairs (CEA) as a service.

Since then, the Centre argues that their mandate hasn’t changed.

In January, AMS Assembly voted to dissolve the CEA, which, according to the plan to redistribute the responsibilities of the CEA set out by AMS Vice-President (University Affairs) Carolyn Thompson, had the Earth Centre returning to its original club status.

President Tyler Lively said in a subsequent meeting of Assembly that the 2015 changes to the Earth Centre’s status had “insufficient consultation.”

The hearing, which was labelled a “constitutional interpretation,” sought to remedy listed concerns by the Earth Centre about future logistical complications and continued status as a revenue-generating entity.

After introducing the Judicial Committee on Sunday evening, Chair Blair Wentworth allowed the managerial team of the Earth Centre — represented primarily by Operations Manager Amy O’Rourke, ArtSci ’17 — to state their argument.

The Earth Centre team stated that they’re a storefront that offers supplementary services like free light bulbs, recycling bins and other products, in conjunction with at-cost sale of environmentally responsible products.

The basis of their argument referred back to Section 7.02.08 of the AMS Constitution, which states that “Clubs shall not be primarily revenue generating entities or have revenue generating activities through the sales of goods and services as a substantial part of their mandate excluding fundraising for third-party charitable organizations.”

“We’d like to emphasize that these services are supplemental and arose after the Earth Centre was established,” representatives of the managerial team argued. “We differ from Oxfam, as we have an allocated store space and Oxfam’s money goes towards charity.”

We’d like to emphasize that these services are supplemental and arose after the Earth Centre was established,” representatives of the managerial team argued. “We differ from Oxfam, as we have an allocated store space and Oxfam’s money goes towards charity.

Oxfam is a club, rather than a service, despite their retail space.

Although they’re revenue generating, they highlighted that because they sell everything at-cost, the money is used to cover costs for the store. Therefore, while they’re revenue-generating, they’re not profit-generating.

After concluding their argument, Thompson and Lively were given time to rebut as the listed respondents.

Asking for an interpretation around the Earth Centre being revenue generating was “a bit speculative,” Lively argued, as clubs shouldn’t be revenue generating.

“To my knowledge no submission of the ratification of the Earth Centre has yet to be submitted, so we’re acting upon the assumption that the mandate of the Earth Centre will be the same,” he continued.

Lively then emphasized the possibility of the Earth Centre changing their mandate through the ratification process for it to comply with the ruling of the Judicial Committee and the AMS constitution.

The Earth Centre’s financial records for the fiscal year of 2016-17, excluding January, showed that they’d sold $320 worth of goods.

Lively then noted that, with the revenue being so low in comparison to the expenditures, arguing for the centre to be revenue generating as a primary part of its mandate is an “aberration of the word primarily.”

Lively then noted that, with the revenue being so low in comparison to the expenditures, arguing for the centre to be revenue generating as a primary part of its mandate is an “aberration of the word primarily.

“I think it was put in there to make sure that we’re not ratifying stores,” he concluded. 

Wentworth concluded that the Judicial Committee would release a written decision the following day. At the time of publication, The Journal had not yet received the written verdict.

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