Absences at BOD forum

Ten out of 16 board of directors candidates were present at the Open Forum on Monday (Photo by: Heather Davidson)
Ten out of 16 board of directors candidates were present at the Open Forum on Monday (Photo by: Heather Davidson)

With only 16 candidates running for the 15 board of directors positions, there is little competition in this portion of the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union elections this year.At the Open Forum that was held on Monday in Waterloo, only ten of the 16 candidates attended.

“It would be great to see everyone there,” said Jordan Epstein, chair of the board and chief governance officer. “On my end I would love to see that happen, but more importantly for students, to enable them to better make an accurate decision.”

Missing were Mohammad Malik, Yoad Avitzur, Shawn Okum, Davis Bretz, Nicholas DeSumma and Melody Parton. DeSumma and Parton are the acclaimed candidates from

Brantford. Parton was present at the forum but did not participate, opting to ask a question to her fellow candidates.

“I chose not to participate in the question-answering part because I decided I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time really,” Parton explained. “I’ve been acclaimed, I’m on the board and I wanted people to be able to focus on the people they’ll be voting for and what they had to say. I didn’t want to distract from that.”

Malik explained that his reason for not attending was due to a class conflict, which he said was critical for him to attend.

“I felt depressed actually because I wanted to be there and publicize myself and what I stand for,” he said.

Epstein said he feels having so little competition for director positions this year “made people take this election a lot less intensely than they would in other years.”

However, Malik doesn’t believe the lack of competition has impacted the campaigning decisions he has made. He also spoke on behalf of his fellow candidates.

“We’re all taking it really seriously. I’ve seen a lot of people lobby and campaign.”
Epstein said he thought there were some good questions and answers this year during the board of directors portion of the forum, .

“Some years they are very operational questions or things that have nothing to do with the board,” he added.

One of the questions candidates were asked was whether or not they supported the referendum question that proposes to reduce the board size from 15 directors to 12. Many of the candidates’ responses focused on the fact that this change would increase competition for elections.

“The important part of the referendum question is that it’s not about elections,” Epstein said. “The referendum question is about around the board table.”

He explained that the current protocol of having 15 directors was based on what the board used to do prior to 2007, after which point they switched to policy governance. Members used to have to sit on various committees, hence the need for more directors. Now, however, the requirement is only for three committees each year.

“In terms of workload, that’s where it’s coming from,” he said.

The impact the reduction in directors will have on elections is purely incidental, he continued.

In terms of attendance at events throughout campaigning, Epstein said that, in the past, participation has helped people decide their vote.

“Generally it’s been used to help make the decision because the people who put the effort into campaigning are generally the people who put the effort into board,” he said. “Though this year based on the people who were ready to go and then just didn’t do anything when they realized how little competition there was, I’m not sure if that’s still accurate.”

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