2017-18 Board of Directors: Midterm Reviews
These reviews were written collaboratively by News Director Safina Husein, News Editor Nathalie Bouchard, News Editor Jake Watts and Editor-in-Chief Kurtis Rideout. They are based on observations from board meetings and interviews with directors, chair and president.
President & CEO
Kanwar Brar has been noted by others to be a professional and well informed president and CEO. It was said that Brar was so thorough in his preparation that his influence guided the board in early meetings, which — at times — impeded on the process of learning for new board members.
There were also problems early in the year that stemmed from a lack of experience throughout the board — this board saw 11 brand new directors — but it was noted that Brar’s knowledge and experience were instrumental in helping to guide board members when they lost focus of the task at hand.
Despite problems that occurred earlier in the year, it was noted across the board that productivity has increased dramatically; the many improvements of the board have been noted by all directors.
Revamping Orientation Week was a large specific focus for Brar. He noted at the beginning of his role that there would be a stronger focus on qualitative programming during O-week, which became apparent as the schedule was rolled out, via more intensive and engaging events.
Another large focus for Brar has been working on agreement renewals and policy negotiations that dictate the student experience in a long term sense. Along with other board members, Brar noted that many of the effects of this board’s decision making process and policy work will be visible over the next three to five years, as that was originally one of his personal goals.
Along with striving to improve engagement with students and volunteers, Brar has represented himself and the team in a demonstrably professional manner, both on campus — via handling controversial topics and making regular appearances — and off — via representation of Laurier’s student body at parliament and elsewhere.
Tarique Plummer has been recognized as an effective chair as well as an approachable resource to his fellow board members. Despite facing hurdles — and some hesitation from the board — following the announcement of his intention to run for president in the upcoming election, Plummer was able to help guide the board to consensus on the polarizing issue, with the board eventually delegating the task of handling the elections portfolio to director Naeem.
Early on it was noted that Plummer’s use of Robert’s Rules was inconsistent and at times served to support his own points. However, his knowledge and use of Robert’s Rules is noted to have improved since the beginning of the year, and he — along with the rest of the team — has applied feedback into his role, allowing him to be an open, fair and responsible chair.
As chair of the board, Plummer is required to be on all of the board committees — over 18 — but his presence on campus via extra-curricular activities has also been of note by many. While it was noted by some directors that, at times, Plummer has stretched himself too thin, his involvement in a variety of campus activities has also been said to have a positive effect on his interactions with volunteers and the student body at large.
Plummer noted that the working relationships within the board have steadily improved over the semester, and that he has worked to make himself as accessible and transparent as possible amidst previous conflicts at the table. Board members also made note of his efforts to be transparent and accessible, which they say improved over the course of the semester.
Michael Del Bono
Vice Chair of the Board
Del Bono is the vice-chair of the Board of Directors and member of the finance committee. Del Bono remains a neutral third party in various discussions around the table. He comes prepared to each and every board meeting and has earned the respect of other board members by navigating the discussions at the board table in a respectful manner. The first meeting Del Bono chaired did not go over as well as anticipated, the difficulties of handling the topic made for a difficult meeting overall. A learning experience developed out of this experience chairing a meeting, where he was tasked with moderating the gallery. Del Bono notably has an open-door policy when it comes to communicating with his fellow directors. He is also a general volunteer for the Food Bank and Peer Connect, but continuosly strives to prioritize the board.
As a first-time board member, Rezkalla has become confident and comfortable in her position on the Board of Directors since she first started. Like many alongside her, Rezkalla took the first few months while being on the board to accustom herself to being a more open board member which has allowed her to effectively articulate her ideas. As a result, this has allowed Rezkalla to form positive relationships with other directors both in and out of meetings. Rezkalla is considered one of the stronger directors on the board due to her strong communication abilities and her capacity to help facilitate meaningful conversations at the table, especially pertaining to topics surrounding policies. Rezkalla is currently involved in the ownership linkage committee within the board and is the president of moot court and an upcoming teaching assistant next term outside of the board. Rezkalla has had two regrets and has made an evident effort in going to the Brantford campus.
Hakim had a slower start to the semester as a first-time board member. Throughout the past several months, his relationship with other board members has remained positive and effective. Within the board, Hakim is chair of the ownership linage committee. Outside of the board, Hakim is a winter carnival executive, student rights advisory coordinator, an icebreaker and vice-president: external affairs for Laurier’s law society. However, Hakim could have put forth further commitment to reaching out to his committee. As a result, Hakim’s performance has been considered to be weaker and can be improved next semester. However, Hakim has made a strong, positive influence amongst students and is encouraged to continue doing so next semester.
Klaudia Wojtanowski’s biggest flaw was noted to be her emotion during board meetings, which is intrinsically tied to one of her biggest strengths: her passion. The potential impacts of Wojtanowski’s reactions were brought to her attention by fellow board members early in the year, allowing her to act on the feedback accordingly. Wojtanowski is a residence life don and piano teacher. Within the board, she is on all three of the student life levy committees and the direct inspection committee. Wojtanowski has been named one of the strongest directors on the board due to the fact that she presents problems to the board but also brings solutions to the table. Wojtanowski maintains a professional relationship with other directors. She is unbiased when it comes to supporting specific policies from other members of the board. Wojtanowski is encouraged to continue to use her passion to bring matters to the board in a professional manner.
As a first-time board member, Paul seized upon her campaign platform’s commitment to get Laurier students more involved with the Students’ Union through the Get Involved Fair and other events on campus. The board of directors’ rocky beginning made it difficult for Paul to speak up and get her voice heard in meetings. In spite of her potential to contribute to the board, she was perceived to be quiet at times when she could have made a contribution. However, after the board went through third-party mediation to resolve their difficulties, she has found it easier to present her thoughts and opinions. Nonetheless, Paul is encouraged to take a more active role in board meetings.
Muhammad Talha Naeem
During his term thus far, Naeem has had to overcome various struggles during his time on the board. As an international student, Naeem has little knowledge coming into his position as director in regards to regulations, policies, communication and more.
Naeem’s performance on the board thus far has demonstrated to be imrpoving. Naeem is encouraged to keep conversations in meetings relevant to the topic being discussed and ensure he brings forth meaningful, articulate contributions to the table.
Despite this, Naeem has often sought the feedback from his board members in order to improve going forward. As stated in his platform, Naeem has worked to represent international students and further open up opportunities to a diverse range of students. Naeem is highly involved on and off the table; he is the chair of the elections portfolio, Student Life Levy committee member for both Brantford and Waterloo, first-year integration marketing executive, member of the Brantford Muslim Student Association and more.
For his first year on the board of directors, Joseph Small has been lauded for his professionalism and ability to adapt to changing circumstances. This was seen most significantly when he assumed the role of acting chair in place of Tarique Plummer to mitigate the conflict of interest in Plummer’s candidacy for Students’ Union president. Small’s contributions to board meetings signify preparation and maturity, and it is clear that he takes his position of director seriously. Small is encouraged to continue filling the responsibilities of his role in this way.
Idris Omar Hassan
Hailing from the Brantford campus, first-time board member Idris Hassan has not managed to be as cordial or effective a director as he could have been. At times, he has levied scrutinizing comments that have been considered not to be constructive, while at other times demonstrating an inability to hide his frustration while discussing certain matters. In light of realizing this, Hassan took the initiative to give a well-received apology to the board. Hassan is encouraged to continue to develop his communication skills at the board table and approach polarizing discussions in a more calm and articulate manner.
As a first-time board member, Roitman has made positive progress as a board member since she first started in her position. Throughout the past few months, Roitman has been able to bring aspects of her platform into fruition — a focus for her was to make connections with the student body and she has done a good job doing so thus far. Roitman has established a positive rapport with her board members within meetings and outside of the board. Roitman is highly involved within the board and within the Laurier campus — she is on the Student Life Levy committee, policy revision committee, involved in various business clubs and accelerate Laurier while also taking part in charity work within the community. Roitman has demonstrated excellent attendance to meetings and has been to one Brantford board meeting.
As a first-year board member, Bonnell has been a policy inspector for ELS and GPS. Outside of the board, Bonnell is involved with numerous extracurricular activities in conjunction with being a director. He is involved as a residence life don, as a diversity and equity advisor, the research president for Bridging the Gap and a member of the social venture entrepreneurship club and co-president of the NDP club. Bonnell has missed just one meeting for personal reasons, but has not attended a meeting in Brantford due to extracurricular involvement. Unfortunately, Bonnell has failed to significantly participate in board discussions due to the fact that he believes the board has too much tension. Bonnell is encouraged to use his experiences from extracurriculars in order to contribute to programming and events run by the Students’ Union.
Liu has had excellent attendance to all the board meetings. He has only missed one for an academic conflict and went to every meeting in Brantford. Liu is a Residence Life don and dodgeball coach. Liu is one of the quietest members at the board table, due to the fact that he is more concerned with the social aspects of the board rather than policy. He is involved with the finance committee and direct inspection. Liu shows significant commitment to the board but at times lacks understanding of policy and committees involved within the board. Liu is motivated to have a great relationship with the Board of Directors, however, he is encouraged to prioritize the goals of the board at large before considering the social aspects of the position.