Final review of the 2021-22 Students’ Union Board of Directors

The following reviews are based on interviews conducted with members of the Students’ Union board of directors as a means to reflect on the term and evaluate their performance as representatives of Wilfrid Laurier University’s undergraduate student body. The information presented in these reviews is pulled directly from these discussions and does not reflect the opinions or views of The Cord.

Pegah Jamalof — President and CEO

President Jamolf did not respond to The Cord’s multiple requests for an interview.

Pegah Jamalof is concluding her year as President and CEO of the Students’ Union with a stronger understanding of student governance practices, as well as a more adept awareness of board policies and procedures.

President Jamalof was praised for her passion for mental health initiatives and effective use of the students’ union’s social media accounts to spread awareness of SU events and projects.

She was noted to have room for improvement in the way she communicated with the board and when she sent out board materials. For example, knowing which appropriate people to send emails to regarding specific issues.

President Jamalof was criticized for not being fully transparent with expenditures, and it was unclear amongst her peers what definitive campus initiatives and goals she has accomplished this year.

Although she was noted to have a similarly underwhelming term compared to her work in first semester, President Jamalof was recognized for her unfailing commitment to stand behind the decisions she believed were important for the students’ union.

President Jamalof is wished the best as she transitions out of her role.

Andrew Dang — Chair of the Board and Chief Governance Officer

After wrapping up his third and final year on the board of directors, Chair Dang is completing his term on a positive note and is recognized by his peers for his dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to treating his team with respect and kindness.

Chair Dang was noted for his more consistent responsibility in addressing board concerns this semester. He made a tangible effort to push forward initiatives that the board has been working on establishing. Examples include live streaming board meetings, setting up equity, diversity, and inclusion training, hiring an external consultant, and resolving governance practices internally.

As well, Chair Dang worked towards placing less reliance on emails in order to communicate with the board of directors, and meetings were noted to have run more smoothly over the last two months especially.

The 2021-22 term presented a heightened number of external and internal issues that required sensitivity and more intensive training, which Chair Dang could have been better prepared to address more comprehensively.

Chair Dang’s unfailingly positive attitude and desire to allow every board member to speak uninterrupted sometimes got in the way of productive meetings and led conversations off track more than necessary. Chair Dang is encouraged to follow Robert’s Rules more strictly in order to cut down on irrelevant deviations from the topics at hand, as well as recognizing the weaker performances of certain board members and addressing those problems head-on. Chair Dang was recognized for his approachable demeanor but was noted to be more well-suited for a role outside of a leadership position.

Although there were noticeable improvements this semester, items like agenda packages were still often sent out late, and Chair Dang seemed to continue to stretch himself too thin with his schedule.

Overall, Chair Dang’s work and accomplishments during his tenure on the board of directors have been appreciated and valued. He is wished all the best with his future endeavours as he transitions out of his role at the end of this semester.

Ezra Ceniti — Vice-Chair of the Board

Vice-Chair Ceniti will be closing his second and final year on the board of directors this term. Throughout his time on the board, he established himself as a reliable resource and was a trustworthy presence during meetings.

Noted for his commitment to seeing through his previous campaign promises, Vice-Chair Ceniti made active attempts to become more knowledgeable about board governance policies.

He was able to adapt to difficult circumstances, as well as the transition from online to in-person operations well, but could have exercised more proactive efforts toward shutting down long, drawn-out conversations in board meetings.

During this year’s election period, it was noted that there was contention between Vice-Chair Ceniti and Director Symington, who were both running for Students’ Union President. However, any issues that were present during this time were effectively resolved, and the relationships between board members remained professional and respectful for the remainder of the semester.

As well, it was expressed that Vice-Chair Ceniti could have stepped up to take on more leadership responsibilities and initiative, such as organizing the board’s social this semester.

Vice-Chair Ceniti demonstrated perfect attendance this term and made a concerted effort to attend board meetings prepared and on time.

On the whole, Vice-Chair Ceniti has left a positive impact during his time on the board of directors.

Victoria Bothwell — Director

Much like her performance first semester, Director Bothwell is concluding her term on the board as one of the strongest performing directors.

Praised across the board as consistently engaged, prepared and effectively communicative, Director Bothwell has gone above and beyond to make sure she has done her job well.

As one of two women on the board of directors this year, Director Bothwell has done an admirable job of asserting her voice when necessary, asking questions, and proving that she is one of the most capable presences at the board table during discussions.

Director Bothwell prioritized multi-campus engagement and board transparency and showcased her commitment through a boots-on-the-ground approach when needed.

Her passion for student governance and desire to hold the board accountable has also persisted throughout the year.

Although Director Bothwell will not be returning to the board next semester as she is graduating, she has made a notable impact and her helpful contributions will certainly be missed.

Sam Bryant – Director

Director Bryant was unable to commit to an interview time due to scheduling conflicts.

Despite his standing as one of the two newest directors who were voted onto the board during last semester’s by-election, Director Bryant has risen to the challenge of his late arrival by becoming a strong member of the board.

Director Bryant was noted by his peers for his respectable level of involvement with the board in spite of the short turnaround time involved with his training and introduction to the role.

Even though he will not be returning to the board of directors next term, his contributions to the board this year have been valuable.

Gurgavin Chandhoke — Director

Director Chandhoke did not respond to The Cord’s multiple requests for an interview.

Director Chandhoke will be concluding an underwhelming term serving on the board of directors. Unfortunately, due to poor attendance, keeping his camera turned off during board meetings and a lack of engagement during votes, Director Chandhoke has not left much of an impact this semester. 

Francesco Del Giudice — Director

While Director Del Giudice originally responded to The Cord’s request for an interview, he did not attend his scheduled meeting time.

Director Del Giudice has solidified himself as one of the most dependable directors on the board this year and has been praised for his devotion to the role.

Noted as being a hard-working, respectful director, Director Del Giudice has prioritized his involvement with the board and has ensured that he remains professional while sitting at the helm of the virtual and in-person board table.

Along with his strong attendance, Director Del Giudice contributed to board meeting conversations meaningfully and regularly and did not deviate from the topic being discussed.

Director Del Giudice will be returning as Chair of the Board next semester, and based on his strong performance during his first year on the board, he is expected to take on the role well.

Mackenzie May — Director

Director May did not respond to The Cord’s multiple requests for an interview.

Director May was recognized as one of the directors on the board with the most room for improvement this semester. Similar to first semester, she was regularly absent from board meetings and it was specifically noted by one director that it was “lucky that she was a woman or [she] would have been kicked off [the board] but [Chair Dang] only cared about optics.”

As a first-time member of the board, Director May’s term as a director will be coming to a close at the end of this semester. 

Aidan McCarthy — Director

Director McCarthy did not respond to The Cord’s multiple requests for an interview.

Similar to his first term on the board of directors, Director McCarthy had poor attendance and low involvement this semester. It was expressed by multiple board members that he could have paid more attention during meetings and he did not hold an active presence on the board.

This will be the last semester of Director McCarthy’s position on the board.

Blake Phillips – Director

As one of the newest elected directors on the board, Director Phillips has proved himself to be a capable and reliable presence this term.

Director Phillips was recognized as an eager member of the board who got along well with his fellow directors. He made an active effort to help where he was needed and worked towards advocating for board transparency.

Despite his former unfamiliarity with board practices and operations, as well as his late entry into the role, Director Phillips was mentioned as one of the stronger directors on the team this semester.

Having missed two meetings this semester, it’s advised that Director Phillips prioritizes attendance as much as possible. As well, he is encouraged to increase his involvement with board committees so he is able to become more familiar with specific governance practices and be better equipped to engage with board-specific information.

Director Phillips will be returning to the board next term and is expected to continue the promising path he has paved for himself in such a short time period.

Shane Symington — Director

Director Symington did not respond to The Cord’s multiple requests for an interview.

Director Symington is wrapping up his second year on the board of directors, and he is finishing this term on a consistent and reliable note. 

He regularly attended meetings and contributed to discussions when needed, and was noted to be very well-spoken. 

Having demonstrated his passion for student engagement by visiting the Brantford campus last semester, Director Symington has also made a point to advocate for increased awareness about students’ union operations to students.

Director Symington will be assuming the role of President and CEO in May.

Brandon Vale — Director

Director Vale will be completing his first and final term on the board of directors and is leaving behind an impressive and noteworthy impression. He was consistently praised for his adherence to board policies and was labelled as one of the top board members in terms of overall performance.

Despite his many involvements this term, Director Vale effectively prioritized his position and attended every meeting on time and fully prepared. He was one of the most vocal members on the board this year, consistently participating in group discussions and continuously demonstrating the extent of his impressive board knowledge.

Fair and balanced in his approach, Director Vale’s level-headedness and willingness to provide his insight on various issues were appreciated.

Director Vale continued to stress the importance of board transparency and student engagement on both the Waterloo and Brantford campuses. He pushed for the board meetings to be live-streamed, which was finally achieved this semester.

Since he is graduating this year, Director Vale will not be returning to the board as a director. His earnest and forward-thinking approach will be missed next semester.

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