The Trinity College Meeting Honoraria Committee met on Sunday March 18, at three o’clock in the afternoon. Discussion was cordial but healthy, although it was somewhat disorganized and repetitive for much of the meeting.
The Honoraria Committee’s responsibility is to assess if any of the Trinity College Meeting Heads’ and Executives’ designated honoraria should be reduced. An honorarium is an award in recognition of volunteer services rendered to an organisation and is not a salary.
In the TCM Honoraria Committee’s structure, these payments are made by default, in their full listed amount.
The Honoraria Committee held an online consultation via Google forms to collect feedback about the Heads’ and officers’ performance in the week leading up to the meeting, and then discussion by those present, with all Trinity students, including non-members of Committee able to voice their concerns and counterpoints. A reduction of an honorarium required a supermajority of Committee votes (6) and a complete cancellation that every present Committee member be in favour (7). Conversation this year was described as being “particularly important due to the online environment making it harder to see the full picture.”
After a drawn out preamble identifying at length concerns raised in the feedback, concerns which would be discussed in detail later, the meeting glacially progressed to working through the agenda.
Discussion finally turned to the only assessee who would have their honorarium reduced, Ben Yu, Male Head of College (elected to that position prior to the de-gendering efforts of the
recent TCMs). Members discussed his performance and visibility. Amid the respondents’ allegations in the form the Head did not attend TCMs, and committee meetings, and launched no major initiatives, and held no events, detailed examination of the records and a lengthy discussion found that he in fact had no more than one excused absence for each committee, with finance committee with one excused and one unexcused absence being the sole exception. His record of holding events by the committee was found to be less than exemplary, with only two “TCM Dinners” and one co-hosted Book distribution event held. Of greater concern to the Committee was his lack of accessibility in the form of his absence of office hours and his lack of social media presence. However, the committee found his performance not entirely unsatisfactory as he was reported by one of the other Heads in attendance as an exceptionally strong student voice on Governance boards. The committee, based on a rough mathematical system which was then round up for the sake of Covid leniency, voted successfully for an honorarium reduction of forty percent to award him the sum of four hundred dollars ($400).
The committee proceeded to turn its attention to Ingrid Cui whose performance was held to be exemplary, with the exception of one allegation of racism against her in the form. The Committee proceeded to hold an exceptionally lengthy and rather circular discussion about how and where such an allegation fit into the “Roles and Responsibilities” and whether they were even position to adjudicate such allegations, with some additionally points made addressing the merit of the allegations and the two specific examples offered, one of which was not posting about the Atlanta shooting and the other was of allegedly supporting someone who had allegedly engaged in tone-policing black students. In regard to the former accustion, the committee highlighted Ingrid is herself asian and several asian members relayed their own personal reasons for not having posted on social media about the incident and that Ingrid may have had similar reasons; they further noted that the heads account collectively expressed support. The latter allegation was meanwhile determined to be in dubious jurisdiction having taken place before her tenure as Head. The Committee was finally able to decide not to submit a reduction as they determined that such matters fell under the purview of the Equity Committee, and thus such allegations and the collection of evidence for such was outside the scope of their decision-making process. At no point did the committee question the sincerity of the allegations.
Discussion skipped over Non-Resident Affairs Head Cindy Lui (Present) who was held by lack of opposition as satisfactory in the performance of her duties. The Female Arts head despite being alleged to be not as active as her counterpart was quickly decided to be satisfactory, and the discussion proceeded to revolve around further racism allegations — against the male Arts head. Upon appropriate discussion the committee decided no action was appropriate based on his active anti-racist work in governance, as well as the same principle rationale as was applied to Ingrid’s case.
Discussion of Div heads was complex, time-consuming and frustrating due to the lack of governance policies for the position in “Roles and Responsibilities” documents. The committee elected to award an Honorarium of zero dollars ($0) to them, on account of their lack of engagement with and support from the TCM at large, as well as the lack of collected feedback and the absence of any earmarked funds for this position. A recommendation to have the TCM more clearly codify or reconsider this position’s presence was alluded to, and matched by the suggestion that the honorarium levy fees might have to be raised to accommodate such expenditures.
The committee was finally able to finish its workload, approving all Trinity College Meeting Executives’ honoraria, based on the insufficient feedback collected to warrant a discussion.
This included the Chief Returning Officer officer who was alleged to have been less responsive than his Deputy Returning Officer and cleared of such aspersions by the statement of one of the present students. The honorarium for the First-Year Committee Advisors was not listed in the document, but was determined through recalling the original resolution at the TCM to have been intended to be exactly equal to the retired sober-patrol officers’ honoraria.
The Committee’s work throughout was afflicted by the unclear rubric and certain omissions in the documents that captured member’s attention for much of the discussion. The committee would likely benefit from a clarified mandate to function more effectively. Nevertheless, the members of the committee for the most part conducted a fair yet generous assessment of performance and all drew heavily on their personal experiences in TCM Governance.