As students enter the eighth week of school, the Mount Allison Students’ union continues to have problems with empty positions on council and on staff. MASU also has had issues with communicating information about council meetings with students and the Argosy.
“This is the year of the student union review,” said MASU president Heather Webster at the annual general meeting of the Students’ Union, encouraging student involvement in the process.
Since then, MASU has held five council meetings. The meetings have been poorly advertised, both on MASU’s website and over social media. MASU’s official Twitter feed has tweeted only one announcement of a meeting, and their Facebook page has no information about times or locations of meetings.
The calendar on MASU’s website also has not promoted meetings, or other MASU organized events with regularity.
“There’s been a little bit of a hiccup with our website,” said Ryan Harley, the vice-president of communications for MASU. Harley says the union hasn’t been able to get its events listed in the correct time zone on its website.
Harley named the lack of a chairperson as the source of confusion and the poor communication of meeting times.
“I think it’s an unfortunate circumstance that we started this year without a chairperson,” said Harley. “I don’t think that confusion will continue now that we have a chairperson.”
Harley also reiterated that “[MASU’s] council meetings have always been open to all students.”
The chairperson is typically hired for the following year before the end of the winter semester.
First-year student John Nuttall was hired as MASU chairperson three weeks ago, and has chaired three meetings since beginning his term.
Even after the Nuttall’s hiring, the communication issues persisted.
When an Argosy editor emailed Nuttall Oct. 13 to get the time and location of next council meeting so that an alternate reporter could be sent, Nuttall replied that the paper was already aware of the meeting times and locations.
News editor Cameron McIntyre’s email read, “Do you know when and where tomorrow’s meeting will be held? I’m trying to send a reporter for the Argosy, but I have no idea where to direct him.”
In full, Nuttall’s emailed reply read, “The argosy [sic] has been made aware of the time of meetings and I will keep her up to date with the meetings.” Nuttall seemed to be referring to communication with the author of this article, who normally covers MASU’s affairs, but had been unavailable at the time.
McIntyre eventually figured out the meeting’s time and location on his own.
Asked later about the email, Nuttall said, “I honestly just thought he was just asking if the Argosy was aware of the times and things and they were before I got the email.”
Nuttall said it was up to councillors to let constituents know when council meetings take place.
Currently, there are empty staff positions such as the deputy chair, as well as one newly open position on council following the resignation of Science Senator Alaa Ratmi.
A by-election will be held to fill the newly available science senator position in the coming weeks.
One aspect of MASU executive’s jobs includes working over the summer in order to prepare for the upcoming school year. This is intended to facilitate a more effective student union council right from the beginning of the year. Presentations on summer mandates were given to councillors by the executive on Oct. 20.
“We [the executive] felt it was weird to present a summer mandate when we hadn’t set our goals for the fall,” said Webster on Sept. 16 of the lack of activity.