LSPIRG to fix its board

Over the summer months, Laurier Students’ Public Interest Group (LSPIRG) has been making big changes to their organization. At their last Annual General Meeting in March, LSPIRG found themselves without a workable board. With only four members of the six they needed, they would need to find two more by September or risk holding a special general meeting.

“We actually have eight board members right now,” Samantha Estoesta, executive director of LSPIRG explained.

With a goal of having nine members by the end of the summer, Estoesta said she is happy with eight. Accordingly, they have enough members for the board to begin in September.

“From now on, we’ll be doing the May to May run that traditionally happens with boards,” she continued. “But they’ll be operating in a completely different sphere. We’ll be very much doing marketing for our AGM starting in November to make sure people understand they can be part of our board.”

This different sphere to which Estoesta is referring is a result of three goals she set for this summer: governance, policy and seeking out board members.

“When I was hired into this position, good governance has been my goal,” Estoesta explained. “So the 13 interns that we had this summer, 10 of them were working on policy…to really make sure we get the organization in the right frame for our board to start in September.”

The organization operates under Laurier policy, but also has its own policy as well. These were last updated in 2008. Hirra Gelani, a director, worked on some of these policies this summer and explained they were focused on making them more readable and accessible.

“Policy will be constantly updated,” Estoesta went on. “We’re going to make sure that we follow really good governance practices.”

As of now, all of the policies are complete. Adding two members to the board was part of Estoesta’s hope to diversify the board.

“In the past…we’ve always been very niche. And I think the problem with being niche is that you separate yourself too much. And so this year our board has been very dynamic, very much looking at community initiatives,” Estoesta said.

“There’s a lot of outreach goals that we have,” Gilani added.
This year LPIRG hopes to partner with the Aboriginal Students Office, mental health initiatives on campus and to continue their partnership with the Diversity and Equity Office.

“I think what I would really like though is to just see that we have a presence on campus,” Estoesta said.
She also wants to have LPIRG be “a name in the community,” where groups in Kitchener-Waterloo think to come to LSPIRG for volunteers.
In trying to accomplish their outreach goals, Estoesta and Gilani admitted there will be challenges along the way.

“Everyone knows that trying to climb a mountain that you’ve never climbed before is difficult,” Estoesta said.

Gilani commented that these are challenges they are looking forward to in order to grow as an organization.

“I mean how can we justify getting student’s fees if we can’t show them something in return,” Estoesta said. “This year we’re doing quite a bit of ‘how can we give back with student fees’ as well. In more creative ways than we’ve done in the past.”

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