On Nov. 4, Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) President Melissa O’Rourke presented her Executive Restructure Report, in which she proposed major changes to the makeup of the executive of MASU. The report completely redefined the role of most executives, which would now consist of a President and VP Executive running on a slate, with a VP Academic and a VP Student Affairs to support their work. Many other responsibilities were combined into hired director positions.
Two weeks later, on Nov. 18, 2013, council reconvened to vote on the proposal. While some councillors raised concerns that the report was being rushed and that proper consultation did not appear to have occurred, the vote was called before even all voices within the room could be heard. In the end, the new structure was approved, subject to changes, by a vote of fifteen to nine. This proportion, while enough to approve the report in principle, is not enough to provide the two-thirds approval of council required to change the bylaws of MASU, which will need to be voted on at the next meeting on Dec. 2.
I share the concerns of Councillor Beirne that the process seems rushed and that of Councillor Riley Thomson, who reminded council that the general public had only been aware of the changes proposed to the makeup of the Executive on Nov. 4. I find it particularly concerning that the first time that students at large had access to the proposal was a week in which no Argosy was published, which meant that only students reading the emails sent by the MASU would have been aware of the proposed changes, let alone would have had a chance to voice their concerns.
So far, off-campus councillors led the only formal initiative to reach out to students at large to hear their concerns and harness their opinions. They organized an event open to the general public on Saturday Nov. 23 to discuss the report and identify its strengths and weaknesses. While I commend these students on organizing this public forum, I firmly believe that those sponsoring the document, that is, the executive, should have sought out these opinions. Consultation should take place before, during, and after the report was written. I do not believe that the email sent out by VP Communications Matthew Ranson on Nov. 20 was a genuine or proactive manner to seek input from students on the restructure. Not only was it sent out after council had approved the matter, it also simply listed the emails of the executive and councillor hours rather than providing a truly interactive and open manner by which to seek input.
I urge the council to delay the adoption of the executive restructuring to the 2015 Executive Elections and to take the time left in the academic year to properly consult students, follow the guidelines outlined in the independent audit conducted last year, and fine-tune the changes proposed in the restructure. Many of the changes proposed in the document will help MASU run more effectively. However, before they are implemented, proper consultation with the student population as a whole and informed, lengthy debate should take place. No voices should be silenced due to lack of time.
I also implore the student body to review the document and to contact their respective councillors with both their positive and negative views of the changes proposed. The major reorganization of executive positions is likely to provide the structure for MASU for many years to come. It should not be approved so rapidly without hearing students’ concerns and addressing them.
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