The Executive Restructure document introduced at the previous Students’ Union council meeting has been adopted, despite considerable dissent. With a vote of sixteen in favour, nine against, Mount Allison Student’s Union (MASU) Vice-President, Communications Matt Ranson’s motion to adopt the motion passed after a lengthy debate.
MASU Vice-President, Campus Life Heather Webster explained that the adoption does not mean any bylaws have changed, saying that “[i]t means we have council’s support to go about consulting students and continuing to work on the restructure.”
In council, Webster stressed the perceived urgency of passing the document quickly in order to allow potential spring candidates to decide if they want to run.
Councillor James Beirne suggested that “the entire process was rushed,” and that “legitimate concerns were shouted down by people saying ‘we need to pass it now.’”
A question-and-answer session was held at the Pond on Nov. 23 in conjunction with a communications strategy proposed by Councillor Maria Wilson. At the session, Ryan Harley, vice-president academic, gave reasoning for the restructure that has stood unchallenged by even its harshest critics.
Citing the relatively recent increase in MASU services to students, such as the Bike Co-op and Health Insurance, Harley said the maintenance of new services consumes the executive’s time: “The traditional role of advocacy has fallen by the wayside because of the weight of the services falling in the lap of the vice-presidents.” The increase in importance of high-ranking hired staff members aims to address this by tasking them with the maintenance of existing programs.
Both representatives in council and students at the Q-and-A expressed feelings that the Executive did not bring the document forward early enough to ensure proper engagement with it by students and councillors alike.
Councillor Piper Riley Thompson criticized the timing in council. “This may have been a seven-month process, but it hasn’t been public to council for seven months. I’ve only known about this since it came forward in the council package in the Nov. 4 meeting,” she said.
At the Q-and-A, President Melissa O’Rourke addressed criticisms that the executive introduced the plan too late, saying, “I was mandated to bring this forward to council by mid-November.”
Webster suggested it would be best for council to discuss whether the document should be pursued this year, or wait until the final council meeting of 2013 on Dec. 2, “depending on the concerns with the actual document.”
After the document’s passage, concerns persisted in council about the proposed dual-ticket for president and vice-president elections.
Shinerama Chair Caleb Stark took exception to what he saw as a lack of consultation about the process. Stark said he only found out about the restructure report because he was delivering his Shinerama report at the Nov. 4 meeting. After that meeting, council agreed to a new process for consulting past occupants of changing positions.
Stark was unimpressed with how he was consulted, saying it was a “thirteen minute phone conversation” with O’Rourke. “Consultation shouldn’t be an afterthought,” he said.
Exec. Restructing Brief
The proposed Executive Restructure cuts the number of Vice-Presidents from six to four, while increasing the importance and number of high-level staff members. While the document containing the proposals passed by a vote of sixteen to nine, there have yet to be any bylaw changes. This means the following changes have yet to be enacted, and are not necessarily forthcoming. What follows is a breakdown of existing and proposed Executive and Executive Staff positions.
Serves as the chief executive officer, main spokesperson, and advocate for the union. The president is also responsible for the union’s internal governance.
While the majority of presidential duties will remain unchanged under the new structure, the biggest change will be shifting the duties of internal governance to the new vice-president, executive position.
Proposed Vice-President, Executive:
Oversees policy creation, bylaw amendment, and human resources. It will be an amalgam of the current internal duties of the president, and the operational duties of the vice-president, finance and operations.
Current Vice-President, Academic Affairs:
Lobbies the university on academic issues. Serves on the university senate as an associate member, and liaises with the student senators. The maintenance of the online bookstore and test bank fall under this portfolio.
Proposed Vice-President, Academic Affairs:
Will maintain the position’s advocacy duties, and add the federal and provincial advocacy duties of the current vice-president, external affairs, in representing MASU for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and the New Brunswick Students’ Alliance (NBSA).
Current Vice-President, External Affairs:
Represents MASU in both CASA and NBSA, while lobbying all levels of government on behalf of student interests. The position is also responsible for the maintenance of the Green Investment Fund, the airport shuttle, Bike Co-op, and housing directory. This position will be dissolved.
Current Vice-President, Campus Life:
Addresses all non-academic on-campus concerns of students, such as athletics, campus safety, and residence relations. Supervises a number of committees, student coordinators, and the entertainment director.
Proposed Vice-President, Student Affairs:
Despite the change in name, this position will be basically the same as the current vice-president, campus life. The portfolio will address all non-academic matters concerning students.
Current Vice-President, Finance and Operations:
One of two currently unelected executive positions. The portfolio includes all financial responsibility, oversight of the health insurance plan, and the review and revision of bylaws and other operational matters. This position will be dissolved.
Current Vice-President, Communications:
The unelected vice-president, communications is responsible for communicating with the union’s membership. Official social media accounts, the website, and MASU emails all fall under the purview of this position. This position will be dissolved.
Proposed election changes:
The president and vice-president, executive will run together on a single electoral slate. This was the greatest source of contention at the Nov. 18 council meeting. All vice-presidents will now be elected.
New Executive Staff Positions:
Director of Union Services:
The maintenance of all MASU services, such as the Bike Co-op and online bookstore, will be managed by this official.
Director of Programming:
During the summer months, the director will chair the orientation committee. During the school year, they will absorb the duties of the entertainment chair.
Associate Director of Programming:
This position will incorporate the duties of Shinerama chair, and take responsibility for all non-entertainment MASU event planning. The position added the Shinerama chair duties after councillors’ objections to its inclusion in the programming portfolio.
Director of Finance:
Will be responsible for all financial duties of the former VP Finance and Operations.
Director of Marketing:
Will consume the duties of the current vice-president, communications.
Policy, Research and Archiving Officer:
This new position will provide policy research to MASU’s executive by observing the activity of other students’ unions.