President-elect asks what took so long to get things moving

Photo: Remi Yuan

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) put out an ad looking for next year’s vice-president of services and communication, but president-elect of the SFUO, David Gakwerere, said the application period “could have easily been two or three weeks earlier.”

He said he’s been kept out of the loop for the past few weeks when it came to filling the job opening, and his questions were met with “vague” responses.

Members of all three slates campaigning during the SFUO general elections in February emphasized a need for improved communication with the student population. However the only two prospective candidates for the vice-president of services and communications post, from the Impact and ABC slates, failed to pass their bilingualism tests, leaving the post vacant.

The SFUO put out an ad for the position March 27 with an April 1 deadline.

“The bottom line is, it has been something that has been known since during the elections … We knew that the position was empty, and it’s only coming out at the end of March? That’s my biggest problem,” said Gakwerere.

Since the SFUO general elections, the five-person selection committee has been looking through the constitution to confirm they are following the rules, drafting terms of reference, and writing up the online callout, said Chris Hynes, vice-president of university affairs and a member of the elections and selection committees.

“Not having one of the executive members during the summer is a burden,” said Hynes, “so we’re really hoping we will be able to fill the position. I’m not super convinced that we necessarily will. We might not be able to fill the position.”

Gakwerere said he’s also concerned that the late application period has meant students who were previously interested in the job had to pass it up.

“People who had been looking at perhaps applying for the job had decisions to make,” he said, adding that potential candidates may have picked up summer jobs, for example, rather than “wait indefinitely.”

The SFUO had to deal without a vice-president of services and communication just last year, after Brad LaFortune resigned from his position in October. Ikram Hamoud, this year’s current vice-president social, was voted into the communications position in the fall 2013 by-election.

After the application deadline closes on April 1, the selection committee, which is comprised of Chris Hynes, Dave Eaton, Nicole Desnoyers, Quinn Blue, and Emily McBain-Ashfield, will have seven days to present their candidate to the Board of Administration (BOA) at the last meeting of the current term on April 8.

Gakwerere said he’s skeptical about whether that gives the selection committee enough time to interview the candidates and conduct the bilingualism testing.

Hynes said the selection committee has already begun preparing for the testing process. “I definitely think we can conduct interviews in that time. There’s no problem,” he said. According to Hynes, if the selection committee doesn’t have a candidate ratified by the BOA by April 8, they most likely won’t have a candidate by May 1.

In that case, filling the position will be up to the new BOA that takes office May 1, however it’s likely a new vice-president of services and communication won’t take office until after the fall by-elections, he said.