By combining democratic decision-making and strength in numbers, our student unions are one of the most powerful tools we have for creating change on campus and beyond. And it's the General Assembly (GA) - the highest form of student democracy- which makes a lot of that happen. General assemblies use direct democracy- all students have an equal voice, vote, and right to participate. At GA's, students come together to discuss issues of the day affecting the student body and the community at large, and democratically vote on the group's priorities and plans of action.
GA’s create community, allow space for students to advocate for change in their departments, take positions on issues as a group representing all students in the association, and to endorse actions to make those demands a reality- from simple things like sending letters, to effective coordinated actions like strikes. What is and isn't a student issue? Simple- it's whatever the students collectively decide is important to them.GA's are also a space to hold association executives accountable and let them know what their membership needs.
The executives of your student association will give reports on what their activities since the last GA have been, so you can learn about what's happening in your department and member association, and get involved as much as you like. All student associations are required to hold at least one General Assembly per academic year, but additional GA's can be called any time, either through the associations' executive or through a petition by the members of an association. If you want to raise an issue, you can call a General Assembly at any time- just talk to your classmates and set student democracy into motion!Check your member association by-laws for more information and specific GA practices decided by your membership.
- Choose a date, time and location, make sure the space you book is accessible to all students. If you’re unsure how to book rooms, check out this page.
- Find a facilitator and a secretary from outside your MA.
- Make a poster and decide who will put them up (you can print your posters in the ASFA office and have it charged directly to your MA).
- Start writing your agenda.
- Hold a representatives meeting to see if they have concerns or anything to add to the agenda. This should be at least 2 weeks before your GA.
- Draft motions and prepare the GA minutes template.
- Are you providing food? Get a food list ready and check what budget for food is available.
- Email your membership with the agenda and motions, post about it on your Facebook group/ page and create a Facebook event.
- Print leaflet sized posters
- Determine leafleting and class announcement duties.
- Prepare a script for class announcements, including key points that will be discussed at the Assembly.
- Make clear guidelines for what executives need to do and say at the GA. Decide who will be responsible for signing-in and welcoming members/ checking student IDs, etc.
- Set up the room put out brochures explaining the rules of order on each chair.
- Set up a laptop with the projector get all documents ready for overhead projection.
- Print sign in sheet and brief the facilitator and secretary about any specific info they’ll need (ex. MA specific bylaws).
- For more details on what to do day-of, view this facilitation guide for a full explanation of procedures.
- Clean up the minutes and email them to your membership.
- Add any changes to the official copy of the constitution and add new positions to the Positions Book.
- Print a copy of the minutes to put into the MA binder and start working on implementing the motions adopted by the Assembly!