Students’ Union board under review
In the second half of their term, the board continued to have quick and efficient meetings. Under the strong leadership of Students’ Union chair and CGO Matt McLean, the board successfully remained transparent and on track with the agenda, focusing on strategic planning and governance of the organization. Additionally, the board vision committee showed tangible steps are being taken to understand where the board needs to go in order to be an effective entity.
However only a few board members contributed critical discussion on more important issues. Oftentimes, the conversations involved a few select directors and did not include much critical analysis into what the board and the Students’ Union as a whole were doing.
Directors should be commended, as attendance and professionalism on the part of the majority of members improved in the Winter term. Members seemed to understand the roles and duties more as directors and used this to be professional in their discussions. However despite transportation being provided, many directors did not make the effort to physically attend the Brantford meetings.
The board’s only challenge this year came when students “occupied” the Union office after the announcement of 22 jobs being cut at Laurier. Select board members were present at the impromptu meeting, responding professionally to the concerns of the students. The efficient scheduling of a meeting the following week was a good approach by the board to keep an open line of communication with the student body.
Overall, the board’s focus on strategic planning and governance of the organization has been effective, but could have benefited from more critical discussion.
President and chief executive officer of the Students’ Union
With minimal Students’ Union experience, Lambert had a realistic approach to the position of president and CEO, understanding that it is very much an operational position meant to run a multi-million dollar business. Lambert fulfilled his duties in terms of policies and monitoring reports, and with the help of his vice-presidents, implemented parts of his platform.
However, his presence on campus and outreach has been lackluster. Despite concerns around this being brought up during the election season, Lambert still was not very present around campus. He is very hard to reach and has not displayed any attempts to increase his transparency to the student body. It is understandable that visibility is not part of Lambert’s philosophy for the position, but due to the nature of the position, students may feel like he is neglecting his duties. As well, in the election, he seemed to run on a platform of visibility on campus, but did not achieve this. Lambert could have avoided this criticism by communicating with the student body his vision for president early in his term.
After missing three board meetings in first semester, Lambert made board meetings more of a priority in the Winter term, not missing any of the meetings and video conferencing into Brantford when necessary. He has also strived to be more professional in his decorum at the board table, however, oftentimes looked uninterested or disengaged in what directors were saying.
He also went on vacation halfway through second semester. Despite VP Samantha Deeming filling in as acting president, Lambert was therefore not present when students had concerns about staff cuts and the administrative changes at the school. However, he should be commended for his actions when he returned from vacation, leading the Town Hall meeting between the Union and students and listening to student concerns.
Lambert had a very strong group of vice-presidents who helped him get through the year. Team management was a minimal aspect of Lambert’s job because of their ability to work independently and help implement various projects.
Overall, Lambert met the minimum standards as president, but did not go above and beyond to be remembered as an exceptional leader of the student body. He was exceptional with his monitoring reports and with the help of his VPs, he has been able to implement changes that will be seen in the next year. However, his lack of presence and passion to go above hindered his performance.
Chair of the board and chief governance officer
McLean has been an exceptional chair this year, making positive contributions to the board in both a macro and micro lens.
When dealing with directors, McLean is approachable and has clearly made the effort to ensure their voices were being heard at meetings and considered with respect.
Board meetings this year have continued to be transparent. They have also been run efficiently and professionally. The increased discussion and engagement at the board table second term was largely attributed to McLean as he encouraged directors to be more vocal and ensured meetings were a comfortable atmosphere.
His investment to help directors grow and learn is evident in the progress they made since their transition last May.
McLean’s vision for this year has also moved the board in a positive direction. There was a greater focus on strategic planning rather than policy, which will tangibly impact the future of the board.
Overall, McLean should be commended for his hard work as chair, continually demonstrating his investment in ensuring directors had valuable experiences and in ensuring the sustainability of the board.
Vice-Chair of the board
Aitchison is definitely not afraid to make his voice heard. He has continued to be very vocal this term, however he often shuts down or brushes off other directors during discussion. As he moves into the role of chair, he will need to be more open to suggestions and become more of a mentor to the incoming board.
Policy is Aitchison’s strength. He has a firm grasp on the responsibilities of the board and will be very helpful with teaching the incoming board about policy and governance, as they are typically inexperienced in that area.
Aitchison’s performance this year has demonstrated his knowledge about the board and his coherence in policy, making him one of the stronger directors. However going forward he will need to focus on his interaction with others to ensure he brings a positive attitude to the role of chair.
Though she has increased her contributions to discussion this term, Adamiak has remained relatively quiet at the board table this semester. However she has made more efforts outside of the board room by educating herself in big student issues such as the IPRM process.
Adamiak is very concerned with students and their opinions, but seemed to remain relatively uncomfortable with governance and policy at the board table.
She has been a more behind-the-scenes board member, getting student opinions on topics and bringing them to the table rather than contributing her own ideas and having other directors voice her questions. She could have benefitted from being more confident at the table.
Adamiak has had a decent term on the board, however she should have participated in discussion more frequently and found more balance between governance and student advocacy.
Bretz has been one of the strongest directors this term, improving greatly since his midterm review. While relatively quiet in first semester, he has become vocal and contributes meaningfully to discussion during meetings.
Since the midterm, Bretz has maintained a good handle on his position and on what the board can accomplish. He has a firm grasp on where the board is going in terms of their strategic direction, something the board has been seriously considering throughout the year. He has also had a perfect attendance record, demonstrating his commitment to the board.
Bretz has also shown dedication when it comes to the Students’ Union elections, as he sits on both the elections appeals and elections review committees. He has had a very successful winter term and has shown dedication and care for his role.
DeSumma has been a standout director this year. He has consistently contributed meaningfully to discussion despite not always being physically present in Waterloo.
One of DeSumma’s greatest accomplishments has been his constant concern for Brantford. He has been a great advocate for the campus and he had a big hand in having a record high number of Brantford directors on the board next year. However coming in as vice-chair, DeSumma will need to be considerate of a multi-campus approach and stray away from always bringing in Brantford-only issues.
In the Winter term DeSumma has grown more confident with bringing discussion to the board table and has a very firm grasp of his role. His leadership will put him in a great position to take over the position of vice-chair in May.
Gibara was a valuable director to the board this term. He demonstrated his investment in the board through both his development and consistency as a director.
His attendance improved since the midterm. As well, he made clear steps toward actualizing the points he put forward in his platform when he ran for the director position.
Accordingly, his actions on committees and at board meetings have been aimed at keeping the Union financially accountable.
While Gibara could have made his voice heard more often, his contributions were always from an appropriate perspective, despite concerns over his political ties leaking into his role as a director of a student organization. Accordingly, Gibara has been a well-rounded director on the board.
*Disclaimer: Spencer Gibara is an Opinion Columnist for The Cord.
Goodman has continued to be one of the stronger directors on the board. He has been committed and provides a needed critical perspective of issues brought to the table.
However his clear leadership and critical thinking skills could have been put to better use as a director, especially in his involvement on the ownership linkage committee.
More effort could have been put by Goodman to increase the engagement between the board as a whole and students.
At the same time, Goodman is cognisant of his shortcomings and remained a valuable voice at the board table.
His care for the board was evident, however his potential to become an extremely effective director was not acted upon.
Jagannathan has been a consistently strong board member throughout the year.
He engaged in discussions and kept an open mind to new ideas. He was an integral part of the board vision committee being struck and its benefit to the board’s strategic plan in the future.
There are times that Jagannathan’s opinions added little to the discussion. As a returning director, he would benefit from discussing issues more critically.
Jagannathan’s attendance has been exemplary throughout, only missing one meeting the entire year because of a class conflict. In addition, Jagannathan made the effort second semester to be physically present in Brantford for the meetings. He should be commended for his dedication to the role.
Jagannathan is certainly a model director. As one of five returning directors, Jagannathan sees areas for improvement and will be an integral part in the transition of younger directors and internal knowledge of board operations.
Throughout the entire year Marshall has not shown dedication to his role as a director. He participated very infrequently in meetings and oftentimes did not seem interested or engaged in the matters at hand.
Marshall often would be distracted by other matters and would only participate by raising his hand for motions.
After the midterm, Marshall was still late to many meetings, and when physically present, he did not make the effort to invest himself into the organization like many of his peers did.
Marshall did not submit a platform in time last year for the election, and throughout this year, showed the level of dedication required for the role was not there.
*Disclaimer: After multiple requests, Christopher Marshall did not come in for an interview with The Cord.
Parton has been a consistently dedicated director, having never missed a meeting. She has also demonstrated her commitment to the board by being present for all but one meeting in Waterloo, despite the fact that transportation is not provided for this.
As well, she has noticeably improved from last semester. She now has a better understanding of her role as director and of the board.
Since gaining this understanding her leadership qualities have become evident.
However as a returning director she will need to work on increasing her confidence at the board table, asking questions herself instead of filtering them through other directors. Overall Parton has shown potential to be a strong director next year.
While his weaker performance last term was due to unforeseen circumstances, Rana has been open to improvement and is focused on his contributions to discussion and to committees. He has made great strides to be present at meetings and to make up for what he missed last term.
Rana has been one of the more critical directors this term and has raised important questions.
However, he has trouble keeping discussion concise and can sometimes seem behind on discussion due to absences last term.
Overall, Rana should be commended for his efforts this term; though he may not be the most memorable director, he has rededicated himself to his role and is finishing the year on a strong note.
Ricci has demonstrated a strong commitment to the board this year. This is apparent through his continual efforts to be connected and visible to the Laurier student body. His social media use and attempts to be vocal on student issues has made him one of the more present directors on the board.
As well, he should continue to focus on bringing a critical eye to the board table and increasing his contributions to discussions, while maintaining a positive and supportive attitude.
Overall, Ricci has been a committed director who clearly cares about helping the board continue in the right direction. Next year, Ricci should capitalize on his position as an experienced director and continue to put students’ interests first.
As one of the most passionate directors, Trottier has improved consistently throughout the year to become a strong member of the board. He prepared for meetings effectively, brought in new ideas and worked on being concise in meetings. His comments in discussion have become more critical, however he would have still benefited from being more direct when bringing up ideas.
Trottier’s attendance has been exemplary since the midterm, not missing a meeting. Even though he could not make it to Brantford, he made the effort to video conference in for the meetings. He was also involved in multiple committees while being supportive of the others he was not a part of.
It is obvious Trottier has a tremendous amount of passion for the position and he used this to his advantage this year to become a strong director.