An “Executive Restructure Report,” submitted by students’ union President Melissa O’Rourke, is intended to be the first step toward an executive overhaul. Despite some objections from councillors about specifics of the report, councillors gave it broad support. The restructuring would substantially change the election process, and redefine the responsibilities of several positions.
The role of the president would remain relatively unchanged, although more emphasis will be placed on external issues, with less focus on internal union workings. The vice-president executive would take the internal duties of the current vice-president finance and operations. The vice-president academic affairs would absorb some of the responsibilities of the current vice-president academic affairs and the vice-president external affairs, lobbying externally as well as on internal academic issues. The vice-president student affairs extends the responsibilities of the current vice-president campus life, in charge of all non-academic student issues at Mount Allison University.
As it stands, the executive positions are president; vice-president, academic affairs; vice-president, external affairs; vice-president, campus life; vice-president, finance and operations; and vice-president, communications. The communications and finance and operations positions are hired; the others are elected.
The report suggests that the current executive structure can break down if the Executive will not work together, or has even one member who is unwilling to do what is required of them, stating that “when a team is not wholly in cohesion, or a member does not produce adequate work, the union suffers and risks a year of failure on behalf of the Executive.”
One aspect of the proposed changes that would address cohesion issues is the placing of the vice-president executive and the president together on the same electoral slate. This means students would vote for the positions together, casting a ballot for two individuals paired on the ticket.
Vice-President Campus Life Heather Webster said that the positions of Shinerama chair, Orientation chair, and entertainment chair will all be amalgamated into the new positions of executive director, union services and executive director, programming.
O’Rourke said that part of the reason for bringing forward the policy to council without calling a vote was in order to consult them about the changes.
Vice-President, Finance and Operations Josh Outerbridge said the new structure would make the executive democratically elected. “It kind of eliminates the problem of [Vice-President Communications Matt Ranson] and I where we’re executives, but staff,” Outerbridge said, “Under the new structure the executive would be solely elected.”
“We are bringing this forward because [the MASU has] grown so much over the past five, ten, fifteen years… We have not changed in a very long time in terms of staff structure, but what we have changed is our organization,” O’Rourke told council.
Fourth-year student Natalie Brunet contacted The Argosy with her concern about changes in Executive positions without a referendum, saying she thought that the council “creating positions for which they would most likely [be elected to] again” was inappropriate. Brunet ran unsuccessfully for vice-president, external affairs last year.
Shinerama chair Caleb Stark and Orientation chair Renée Connors were present at the meeting, and expressed concerns about the inclusion of the positions in the duties of the newly created Executive staff positions. They said that both positions are “passion projects” that should be filled by people who care deeply about the events rather than people who are simply good managers.
Councillor Piper Riley Thompson asked whether the change in structure would cause any budgetary changes. Vice-President, Finance and Operations Josh Outerbridge replied, “We’ve crunched the numbers, and I think it all balances,” continuing, “we’re also looking at factoring in a pay raise as well, because we are going to have higher expectations for the higher [positions]. If you factor those in, it would only be around 2,000 extra dollars, but you can structure it in such a way that there would be no additional cost.”
After a lengthy debate, council elected to put the report through a review by the Executive Committee, and later the Operations Committee, before further action is taken.