Issue 30, Volume 85
Feb. 6, 2013
A proposal to expand the number of undergraduate executive members from four to six has been approved in under three weeks, with the new positions to be contested in the March general election.
On Jan. 14, the University of Windsor Students’ Alliance vice-president of university affairs, Mohammad Akbar, called an emergency meeting of the council to discuss his proposed changes to the organization’s executive structure.
The proposal was passed with one against and one abstention, and Akbar is confident that the changes will receive final approval by both the Internal
Policy Committee and council as a whole.
If salaries are maintained at the current level of around $28,200, the annual cost of the new positions to the UWSA— and de facto the student body— would be $56,400.
Akbar would like to see executives take a $2,000 pay cut, but he believes that the money could be found in the budget or saved through the elimination of redundant services.
“There will be a lot of redundant services, for example the academic advocate will now be taken over by the VP university affairs, so the entire budget for the academic advocate can now be moved directly into the budget for executive salaries,” said Akbar.
“The UWSA has no pains for money,” he added. “There’s plenty to allocate and with
recent services being cut, like the pub and the used bookstore, there’s no excuse for not having money for this project.”
UWSA president Kimberly Orr said, “we are saving some money from the reduction of co-ordinators and having those job duties fall onto executives now, but that’s a minor cost savings in comparison to the amount of added salaries for executives.
However, with the new deal with the Bookstore moving into the CAW basement, we are receiving funding from them, so we could possibly put that toward executive salaries.”
On his blog, Akbar listed his grievances with the current executive structure, including a lack of clear division of powers between membership, a tendency for executives to impose ‘group think’ in order to garner more control over the
organization, undefined roles and responsibilities, a ‘chronic’ lack of proper training for all members, and the fact that UWSA executives have voting seats on council when council is supposed to hold them accountable.
Akbar is seeking to create two new positions, a vice-president external and a vice-president equity and administration. He justified the proposal with research he conducted of 20 different student unions (both college and university) across the country. His proposal was amended by another councillor who had wanted to create a new position of vice-president social.
The universities of Toronto, Ryerson and Ottawa all have similar six-executive structures, and according to Akbar they all have “a lot more full- and part-time staff, and they make a lot more money.”
“‘We’ve seen consistently the executives unable to complete the duties that are defined in the constitution and bylaws…it’s chronic,” stated Akbar, adding, “Almost all executives— there are exceptions— are destined to fail because of how their positions [are defined].
Major changes at the polls to affect student government
Akbar believes that his proposal will help connect students with the UWSA on a greater level as he finds that many faculties aren’t assisted by the UWSA due to a lack of staffing.
Orr likes the six-executive model that Akbar proposed and believes that it will “solve a lot of the problems that the current UWSA executives have in office.”
“I worry because we’re a smaller student union than some of the one’s that have six
executives, that it might be a financial burden on our organization and that there might not be enough work for six executives. But I definitely think it’s time to
try something new and I think that it’s a great step in the right direction.”
Akbar has found it hard to fulfill all of his position’s obligations since his position deals with external and academic/university issues. “I found it really troubling when I wanted to do both … it’s really hard.”
Akbar believes his proposal will fix this situation of executives finding it hard to achieve their goals.
While the proposal received primarily positive response, Orr raised concerns related to whether or not the UWSA should have put forward the six executives in the upcoming general election.
“The response that came back was that they need to be approved officially by council before they can be run in our election. There is some contestation right now as to whether they’ll be run in this election.”
The chief returning officer released an election nomination package on Jan. 30 that included the new executive positions.
The proposal passed with clear margins of victory at the last UWSA executive meeting and IPC meeting. Akbar explained that “most agree that this is a much better process than what is going on now, and that what’s going on now is a huge
“We’re tasking our time going through it to make sure everything is perfect for council and then it’ll come to council again, and I don’t foresee any problems,” explained Akbar. “There are people who disagree with the structure, and that’s fine, but I think that in the end we agree that this is better for students.”
Jon Liedtke was the Features and Opinions Editor, Advertising Manager and Deficit Consultant at the UWindsor Lance.