A revamp of the Management Undergraduate Society (MUS) organizational structure over the summer has inspired a faculty association-led inspection of SSMU governance.
A letter authored by MUS President Dave Fortin is being circulated among other faculty association presidents as a way of soliciting feedback on possible modification to SSMU’s organizational structure. Fortin said the letter is still in its early stages as a draft document.
“It takes a look at the different structures of SSMU, and it’s really an analysis. So, it says what is in place, why it’s in place, how it came to be, what are some of the negatives, what are some of the positives, where is there room for improvement, and how could we strive to improve some of those things,” said Fortin.
“Because there are definitely areas where there is room for improvement,” he continued.
Josh Redel, president of the Engineering Undergraduate Society, said he was interested in how the document compares SSMU to other universities.
“I haven’t had too much time to go through it,” he said, “[but] it’s an interesting look at how SSMU works and how it serves students.”
Redel also noted how changes proposed in the document could affect SSMU’s dual roles as a student service and a political body.
Fortin said the genesis of the letter came amidst MUS’ own reorganization over the summer, when the Society created a Board of Directors with academic area representatives and cut down the number of executives, giving them a more operational than governing role.
“We began the process of looking at the other things that we could potentially change. So we began to look at the money that our students pay to us, and the money that students pay to SSMU, and we realized that we wanted to make sure that SSMU was held accountable to students as well,” said Fortin.
Fortin didn’t discuss specific flaws he had found in the SSMU organization structure – saying he thought it was a process that’s “better done internally” – but emphasized that he thought the SSMU executive had been doing “a fantastic job” this year.
“What we want to look at was more the decision-making bodies of SSMU and whether they were appropriate,” he said. “There’s always room for improvement in any type of situation where you’re representing students.”
SSMU President Maggie Knight said Fortin had informed her of the letter last week.
“I’d heard sort of mutterings about it from various people during the summer,” said Knight.
“I haven’t seen any of the tangible documents at this point, but he’s assured me that they want to come forward with some ideas that are well thought-out. And so they’re kind of in the process of doing that,” she continued.
Knight said she wasn’t aware of any specific changes proposed in the letter, but that she’d heard they could include changes to the structure of Council and the SSMU Board of Directors, as well as changes to the election process.
“We might all agree on those things, and we might have different ideas about exactly how [the changes] could be enhanced. But I haven’t seen their ideas, so their ideas could be amazing, or I could think they’re awful. I don’t know yet,” she said.
According to Knight, any proposals that would involve changing the SSMU Constitution would have to go to referendum, while smaller proposals to change by-laws or policy could go through Legislative Council.
As for right now, Fortin believes the document is a long way from proposing specific changes.
“Everyone who I spoke to about it, I clearly wrote ‘Draft’ on it, and I said, ‘This is a working document, and this is really intended to garner your feedback, rather than to make any type of decision upon,” he said.
Knight noted that the relationship between faculty associations and SSMU isn’t well-defined, but continued by saying that “they have a good perspective.”
“Obviously faculty associations are different than SSMU, so not everything that works at one level would work at the other,” she said.
“For me, the more people that are interested in making SSMU better, the better. So if they’re interested in spending some of their time thinking about this then I’m happy to look at what they produce.”
While he said the letter has been receiving positive feedback, Fortin declined sending The Daily a copy, explaining that he was still focused on keeping the document an internal collaboration. He added that if he can get a lot of associations on board and provide a “document that [they’re] really proud of,” he will publicize the document and bring it to SSMU.
“We want to make sure that everyone is board – or at least most people are on board – with coming up with solutions that everyone can agree to and agree are beneficial,” Fortin said.