Extraordinary General Meeting - 2016-03-01

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Society Extraordinary General Meeting minutes for March 3rd, 2016 at 6:30pm
Location: 1820 Pandora Street, Vancouver BC


  • Facilitator: Michael D
  • Scribe: Michele W


  • Amber P
  • Brian M
  • Frank P
  • Jeff W
  • Kricket C
  • Kris D
  • Mac M
  • Michael D
  • Michele W
  • Mike F
  • Mike G
  • Nancy W
  • Robert P
  • Roxana K


  1. Introduction of Roles
  2. Special Resolution
    1. Description of Procedure
    2. Reading of Special Resolution
    3. Vote on Special Resolution
  3. Discussion of Proposed Ban Policy Revision

Introduction of Roles

  • Michael D introduces himself as Secretary and facilitator, and Michele W as scribe.
  • The Society members are the custodians of Free Geek, and will be voting and discussing for what they believe to be its best interests.
  • ... is a guest at the facilitator's recommendation.

Special Resolution

Description of Procedure

Michael D: Special resolutions are decisions that affect our society which are registered with Victoria. The reason we are holding a special resolution for expulsion is because members still retain their membership after being banned. We are bound by our Bylaws as to how to proceed. These are the applicable bylaws on this topic:

8 (1) A member may be expelled by a special resolution of the members passed at a general meeting.
  (2) The notice of special resolution for expulsion must be accompanied by a brief statement of the reasons for the proposed expulsion.
  (3) The person who is the subject of the proposed resolution for expulsion must be given an opportunity to be heard at the general meeting before the special resolution is put to a vote.

The proposed special resolution is a decision on whether or not to expel member ... from membership, following [their] ban last year. There will be no questions once the procedure begins. I will not be going into specific detail for the sake of privacy and decency. Your job as members is to decide whether or not the board has investigated these allegations in good faith. I ask the membership to allow ...'s council to be present. [They have] requested to be able to speak for 15 minutes rather than 10. I second these suggestions. I'm calling for this meeting to adjourn at 8:30PM.

Kricket: Did the directors decide to have this meeting?

Michael D: It’s at my recommendation. I conducted an independent investigation into this matter, due to my role as secretary, as well as advice from our lawyer. I was also uninvolved with the circumstances behind the ban.

Reading of the Special Resolution

"RESOLVED, as a special resolution, that ... be expelled as a member of the Society, effective on the date that this special resolution is accepted for filing by the Registrar of Companies."

Reasons and Response in camera

Vote on Special Resolution

  • 9 for
  • 4 against
  • 69% in favor; the Special Resolution does not pass

Mac: Could this special resolution be attempted again, in a few months?

Michael D: The Board will not call for this Special Resolution again.

Discussion of Proposed Ban Policy Revision

Jeff: What is a summary of the changes?

Michael D: There is vague and problematic wording with our current policy, especially regarding the distinction between immediate bans and policy bans. I tried to better solidify the distinction by making it between immediate bans and deliberated bans. I view immediate bans as things you would call the police over, e.g. assault, theft. These are bans over something that needs to be stopped immediately. Deliberated bans would require staff consensus, and cover everything else.

Brian: Will this policy be grandfathered?

Michael D: When we get to the appeal process, we'll discuss that. Right now we just want to have a policy that puts us in the legal clear and keeps both staff and the public safe.

Jeff: Isn't there some obligation to call the cops if something illegal happens?

Michael D: Yes, but in the time it takes the police to get there, staff need to be able to act and not be called into question. Also, the cops are not arbiters of who is banned from our premises.

Brian: Much of Free Geek's intellectual property is open source. Can copying that be considered a ban-able offense?

Michael D: That section has more to do with piracy and illegal downloading.

Frank: The term “violation of privacy” isn't very specific.

Brian: If I'm asking a volunteer questions about them, does that count as invasion of privacy?

Michael D: I’m open to suggestions on better wording on that.

Jeff: We could add some definitions in the preamble.

...: So is the issue with me finished?

Michael D: Yes. I will recommend to the board to consider your appeal, but it will be pending the policy’s rewording. Your membership will resume in the meantime.

Mike F: The word “endanger” sets a really high bar. What was the intent?

Michael D: It was the “call the police” scenario. Something we need to stop immediately—something proven.

Michele: Is the term “Staff” in 1b singular or plural?

Michael D: If a single staff is witnessing something that warrants a ban, they should be able to issue it.

Brian: Should the Board have that authority?

Michael D: The Board’s responsibilities are to the finances, the administration, and the Society. They are not responsible for operations. We should be aiming for a separation of powers.

Brian: It's required under WCB that if a staff member is going to be in a situation that may escalate (such as giving a ban), they should bring another staff member.

Mac: It helps to have a witness, so the person being banned doesn't feel victimized.

Mike F: I would add to 1e to add another staff member (or volunteer) to assist when possible.

Michele: So how do we deliver a ban during something like a snatch and grab? We can't tell them they're banned.

Mike F: We tell them if they come back.

Michael D: Deliberated bans are for people who are frequently being disruptive or inappropriate on a regular basis. We will give them time to cool off and correct their behavior, which is not accounted for in the current policy.

Frank: How can we define behavior that causes distress? Some people get distressed and it is not necessarily due to inappropriate behavior.

Michael D: This is at the discretion of staff. The 3 criteria of causing disruption and distress are: refusing to follow code of conduct/netiquette, on-site rules, or staff instructions.

Jeff: Should there be a reset period for warnings, or are they forever?

Mike F: They shouldn't reset. Bad behavior is bad behavior.

Jeff: Well, people will be getting warnings for being annoying, or because staff is in a bad mood over something trivial.

Michael D: Which is why we specify that the warnings are issued about code of conduct, on-site rules, or staff instructions.

Mike F: When we used the cooling period before, we asked them to not be here for 8 weeks. Should we codify a similar time?

Michael D: This should be at staff's discretion.

Brian: We should add the cooling-off period to the warning record.

Frank: Should we maybe change the wording in 2 to “behavior that is disruptive?” That way it deals with the behavior, rather than how someone feels about it.

Michael D: In the case where someone is distressed, it's the staff's discretion to see if something warrants a warning.

Mac: I once had a volunteer overhear me say something, and was offended by it. I was told by someone else that this happened. Should I have gotten a warning?

Michael D: Again, it’s the staff’s discretion as to whether or not something should requires a warning. In that situation I guess it depends on the severity of the language you used.

Jeff: Should staff be required to deliver a written warning notice?

Mike F: What if we don't have a way to deliver a notice—customers, for example?

Kris: How long do we keep that information for?

Mike F: Indefinitely.

Michael D: Is the concern that they won't remember?

Jeff: Yes. What if someone repeats behavior that they don't remember being reprimanded for?

Frank: A cooling-off period could be heated up by such a notice.

Michael D: People take written messages very seriously, and a written notice could cause additional embarrassment. I don't want to do anything to escalate the situation.

Michele: Should we have a fixed time period for how long someone should be able to file an appeal?

Michael D: Having that seems unfair.

Mike F: If there's staff or board turnover, the people on the appeals board may be unaware of what's happened... though I guess that's the point of documentation.

Michele: This is where the question of grandfathering comes in. We have people who have been banned and there isn't documentation available.

Michael D: Under the proposed policy the Board decides whether to pursue appeals. The board can determine if an appeals request is valid.

Brian: What if the board cannot make forum within 30 days? The time period should be longer to ensure they have time to meet.

Mike F: Or by 15 days within the next board meeting.

Jeff: Does the banned person have to attend the meeting? Or can they have a representative in their place.

Michael D: I assume that the person appears, but they can have someone speak for them.

Jeff: But do they have to appear?

Frank: If they have to include an explanation for their behavior and why the ban should be overturned, that precludes cases where they deny the behavior happened.

Michael D: Under this wording, they need to explain what their actions were, and why they acted the way they did.

Frank: Doesn't that assume guilt?

Michael D: Bans happen after staff witnessed something. The appeal’s explanation may be about how the person’s behavior was misinterpreted.

Michael D: A three-party panel may be hard to do. What do we do when there isn't a third member available? We no longer have a dedicated ombudsman, so it's hard to have someone on call. Jeff: What about hiring a professional?

Brian: Can be quite expensive.

Mac: Trevor was possibly interested in acting as ombudsperson.

Mac: What about an unbanning policy? If we have an appeals policy, there should be a policy to make sure everyone knows that they're allowed back if they successfully appeal.

Michael D: I'll add a way to unban and about how to follow up on a successful appeal.

Michael D: I will edit in the recommended changes, and put it on the Society list. Is everyone amenable to discussing the policy on the list?

Brian: Are people previously banned grandfathered into the appeals process? We can't write rules that make the rules more harsh for them.

Michael D: The appeals process makes it more clear how someone can address an existing ban. I don't think there's anything in here that makes it harder for them.

Brian: I'd like to have a specific grandfathering clause added.

Meeting adjourned 8:30pm