Final review of the 2020-21 Students’ Union President and Board of Directors
The following reviews are based on interviews with the Students’ Union Board of Directors to reflect on the year and if they best represented Laurier undergraduate students.
Devyn Kelly – President and CEO
With her term coming to an end amidst a challenging and remote year, President Kelly has had great success in maintaining the integrity and operations of the Students’ Union. She is considered to be highly knowledgeable and professional, offering her expertise to board members and acting as a good source of information regarding policy.
Many directors commended her ability to adapt amidst the circumstances, given the fact that she had planned and prepared for a normal year as President yet had to reroute her plans accordingly.
As President, she was approachable and transparent. Kelly was always present at meetings, although some directors noted that they would’ve appreciated it if meeting materials could have been relayed quicker, giving directors more time to read over the material and prepare in advance for meetings. Regardless, the directors understand the nuances of acquiring meeting materials from different committees and departments, slowing down the speed in which these materials can be relayed.
In President Kelly’s term as president she has had many successes, some of which have been reactionary as new circumstances arose, and some of which were highlighted in her campaign promises.
Although pressing issues have taken precedence over some of President Kelly’s original campaign points, she has managed to be able to follow through with tangibly completing several of them. For example, by implementing The Nest, President Kelly was able to complete her campaign promise of enhancing the Students’ Union’s online presence and creating a centralized hub for information regarding clubs and associations.
While some of her platform points have not been fully realized during her own term, there are many that will be coming into fruition in the near future. For example, President Kelly had campaigned for Wilf’s delivery, online mental health resources and health food vending machines on campus, all of which will either be rolled out in the coming year or have plans set in motion for potential implementation in the future.
Some important highlights of President Kelly’s tenure as president include her ability to effectively respond to conflicts and controversies that arose this year on multiple occasions, and her advocacy for campus issues such as exam policies, lockdown browser requirements, credit withdrawal and more.
Kelly has done a good job staying neutral and authoritative, and in representing the student ownership. Her colleagues commend her term as president.
Sameed Hussain – Chair and CGO
Chair Hussain was able to successfully navigate the board through a year rife with contentious topics and important issues.
By holding board meetings at an earlier time in the evening than previous years, Chair Hussain was able to bring in more presenters, including the chair of Laurier’s pandemic recovery steering group, the dean of students office, Laurier Black student collective, the office of Indigenous affairs and more on numerous occasions. This served as a benefit to the board as it allowed for them to effectively navigate difficult conversations and come to resolutions together during a time of heavy social change.
Many directors believe he could have handled the situation regarding president-elect Pegah Jamalof’s restorative justice process better, as many were confused by the policies in which they were bound to and by how much authority they truly had to make a decision on Jamalof’s actions from election results night. As chair, Hussain is well-versed in the Students’ Union’s policies and some directors expected him to be able to relay this to the board more effectively.
As a non-voting member of the board, many directors otherwise believe that Hussain has a good sense of his station as chair and is largely able to remain neutral without invoking his own opinions during discussions.
Some directors expressed a wish for him to better reel-in discussions to ensure that meetings always stay on track and are productive. Regardless, his peers commend him for doing a good job amid the circumstances.
After completing his third term with the board, Chair Hussain will be moving on from his role as he is graduating this semester.
Ultimately, Chair Hussain can be commended for his work this year. He is regarded for his ability to collaborate and communicate successfully with others and is a pillar of knowledge amongst the board.
Andrew Dang – Vice Chair
Director Dang has had a strong year as Vice-Chair of the board. With a perfect attendance record throughout his two years of involvement, Director Dang has attended meetings prepared and vocal.
Fellow board members have cited their appreciation for his extensive knowledge of finance and his active engagement with policy, having never shied away from asking questions or obtaining clarification during board discussions when needed.
Director Dang was committed to increasing student engagement with board decision-making, which has historically been a difficult task for the board to accomplish. However, with publicized issues being brought to the board’s attention this semester, more students were given the opportunity to be present during board discussions as gallery members.
Moving forward, Director Dang is encouraged to ensure the jargon being used during board meetings is accessible to students and newer Directors, and the outcomes regarding student issues are being communicated clearly, to encourage ongoing transparency and reduce confusion.
Organizing board socials was one of Director Dang’s campaign platform goals that was noted to have been accomplished successfully. Contributing to the overall effectiveness of meetings, Director Dang’s relationship with the board was built on friendliness, respect and strong communication.
Handling the online nature of remote work well, Director Dang has showcased his ability to adapt to a difficult environment. Always ready with enthusiasm and dedication, Director Dang was touted as an ongoing positive presence at the board table.
Director Dang has set himself up well for his return to the board and his transition into the role of Chair next term.
Director Thomas is considered by many of his colleagues to be a strong presence on the board. In his second year as a director, Thomas has further developed an understanding of Students’ Union policies and has been able to utilize his strengthened knowledge to respectfully challenge dissenting ideas during board meetings — an important skill when it comes to making agreements and final decisions.
Throughout the term, Director Thomas has done an effective job of ensuring that board meetings stay on track and are productive. Although he often reserves from making regular, consistent commentary, he effectively voices his opinions and chimes in appropriately during meetings.
As listed on his platform during the campaign period, Director Thomas has remained steadfast in ensuring that the board prioritizes transparency and fairness throughout the term.
Although this will be his final term as a director, Thomas will be continuing his work with the Students’ Union’s operations team as the incoming VP: Student Services Waterloo.
Having been present at every board meeting this year, Director Thomas has done an exceptional job in representing and advocating for the student ownership during his tenure.
Considered by his peers to be one of the stronger directors, Director Ceniti has done a good job in his role of being a voice for students.
As a first time director, Ceniti has proven himself to be a valuable asset to the board. He has been very participatory during board meetings, is willing to share his insight and always comes prepared. Director Ceniti has been an involved member this year, having been a part of three direct inspection committees, all of which he chaired. He has built and maintained a strong and transparent relationship with the board.
Director Ceniti is very engaged on campus. He is a LOCUS don, a Shinerama executive and a general member of Right to Play, all of which have served him in his ability to advocate for students. Ceniti will also serve as a Student Rights Advisory Committee coordinator in the coming year.
Ceniti will be continuing into next year in the role of Vice Chair, in which his peers believe he will thrive. Director Ceniti will endeavour to improve upon general communication and in making sure all directors are well aware and informed of what is happening amongst the board, as well as making an effort to fulfill his other campaign goals, such as maximizing the student experience.
Director Rutherford has concluded her first and final year on the board with a more developed understanding of policies and a stronger voice.
Adapting to the challenges presented by a remote work environment, Director Rutherford established a firmer grasp of board protocols and spoke up more frequently during meetings — aspects which were noted as personal points of improvement during the first semester.
Director Rutherford campaigned for improved board transparency and strengthened advocacy for students. This term in particular showed progress in achieving those goals. She actively worked on being a larger voice for students who had concerns and served as a resource for people who reached out to her when they wanted their issues to be addressed.
Involved in the Brantford and Ownership linkage Committees, Director Rutherford ensured that she was an engaged and productive presence.
Having only missed one meeting this semester, Director Rutherford established open and consistent communication with the Chair and President, as well as her fellow board members. Despite more contentious topics being brought to the board table this term, Director Rutherford’s relationship with the board remained respectful, in and outside of meetings.
Director Rutherford will not be returning to the board next term, as she will be graduating.
Concluding his final year on the board with a firm commitment to policy and student advocacy, Director Shah has proven himself to be a reliable and dedicated board member.
A detailed perfectionist regarding board policies, Director Shah worked on balancing the specifics that needed to be discussed and the time that was available in meetings to do so.
Director Shah endeavoured to push for transparency and strengthened communication with students, ensuring that people outside of the board had the opportunity to be engaged with meetings, specifically about high-priority issues that took place.
Although adapting to online board meetings presented challenges, Director Shah’s relationship with the board was strong and effective. Despite any opposing views that were brought up between directors during meetings, members were always able to set those differences aside and behave respectfully towards one another.
Director Shah missed one board meeting this term and was involved with the Finance Committee, Waterloo Student Life Levy, Direct Inspection Committees, Ad-Hoc Committees, the Hiring Committee for Secretary and CRO for the Board and was a member of Foot Patrol.
As a graduating student, Director Shah will not be returning to the board but has finished his last term strongly.
Director Musa has finished his final year on the Students’ Union Board of Directors with a strong voice and a commitment to student advocacy that was showcased throughout the semester.
Although he was unable to fulfill many of the promises made in his platform about strengthening the ties between the Waterloo and Brantford campuses due to COVID-19, Director Musa spoke up more during meetings, especially regarding divisive issues.
Director Musa had a professional and friendly relationship with the board, despite the limitations presented by an online work environment.
Having missed two meetings due to family emergencies, Director Musa ensured that he kept consistent communication with the President, Chair and fellow board members.
Board meetings were conducted effectively, with individual opinions and stances respected and valued, regardless of any disagreements that arose during the process.
Director Musa has proven himself to be a devoted team member who was involved in policy review committees and dedicated to board transparency and student engagement.
As he is a graduating student, Director Musa will not be returning to the board next year.
As a first-time member of the board this year, Director Han has been a vocal contributor during board meetings and is regarded to be a very strong director.
Director Han has used her position to effectively advocate for students in multiple initiatives, ensuring that she stays involved in making critical decisions and in obtaining clarification when needed. A main success of Director Han’s tenure has been the email signature initiative that includes an Indigenous land acknowledgement, which she led.
During committee meetings, she works hard behind the scenes with her fellow committee members to advocate for important projects. She also rallied for effective transparency from the Students’ Union regarding the health and dental plan and better wording of election referendum questions.
Although she will not be returning to the board in the upcoming year, Director Han has played a role in encouraging several incoming directors to run for board positions.
Overall, Director Han has had a successful tenure on the board and, with strong work ethic and thoughtful consideration, has demonstrated her ability to adequately advocate on behalf of the Laurier student body.
Director Han did not respond to The Cord’s inquiry for an interview to discuss her term on the board.
Director Francis has concluded his final year on the Students’ Union Board of Directors.
As a first time member who was actively involved in student governance, Director Francis has been noted as an amiable and dedicated board member.
Director Francis was one of the less vocal members of the board, and fellow members would have liked to have seen him express his opinions and weigh in on discussions about contentious issues more frequently. While quiet during board meetings, his peers say he has a firm grasp of policy and was more contributive during committee meetings composed of smaller working groups.
Though initially responding to The Cord’s interview request, Director Francis did not answer when contacted to discuss his term on the board.
Director Doolittle’s tenure with the board will be wrapping up this term, as he will not be returning to the board in this coming year. Aside from his duties on the board, Director Doolittle is involved on campus in multiple roles.
Many directors adopt the philosophy of asking questions during meetings — even if the answer is widely understood — in an effort to remain transparent to the student ownership. With this in mind, Director Doolittle was encouraged by his peers, in both his midterm and final review, to take steps to pose more questions, voice his opinions and weigh in more frequently during meetings.
Despite this, his fellow board members recognize that he has excellent attendance to meetings and always comes as prepared.
Director Doolittle did not respond to The Cord’s inquiry for an interview to discuss his term on the board.
Director Symington has established himself to be a qualified and vocal board member during his first year of involvement on the Students’ Union Board of Directors.
Cited as one of the stronger directors, Director Symington has been a standout member who has developed comfort in participating during board discussions.
Director Symington has been cited as enthusiastic and enjoyable to work with, exemplifying a commitment to student advocacy that should set him up well for his role on the board next term.
Though initially responding to The Cord’s interview request, Director Symington did not answer when contacted to discuss his term on the board.
Third-time member of the board Director Alwi has been able to use his tenure with the board to adequately advocate for students.
As a Brantford campus student, Director Alwi promoted multicampus representation throughout the years. He has done an effective job in representing the Brantford students and their interests, specifically.
As a longtime member of the board he has effectively fostered relationships with his peers, although some directors expressed that they wished he was more vocal this year, as he could serve as a good source of information for the rest of the board and has a thorough understanding of policies.
Director Alwi’s contributions throughout his years as a director have had significance. He will be moving on from his role on the board in the coming year.
Director Alwi did not respond to The Cord’s inquiry for an interview to discuss his term on the board