Motion makes exec positions clearer, reorganizes clubs and services

The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)’s last Board of Administration (BOA) meeting on Nov. 5 received significant attention from students, mainly dealing with the addition of political positions to the SFUO policy manual.
But one part of the meeting that didn’t get any spotlight was when SFUO president Hadi Wess announced a motion that would completely shake up the governance structure of the SFUO. The motion, which passed, looked to clarify and revamp the roles of the executive of the SFUO.

And, by the looks of it, it’s a great idea.

The motion is comprehensive, renaming some positions, shifting clubs and services so they’re not as dispersed across different executive portfolios, and ensuring the job descriptions are up to date. Some of the roles will be changing, for example the president will become the spokesperson for the federation at large, and not just the BOA as was previously the case.

Considering that the SFUO constitution is often out of date, having updated, clearly-defined roles is a great way to ensure people on or hoping to join the executive have a clear idea of what’s expected of them, and lets students know who’s responsible for which aspects of their experience.

In his presentation, Wess also mentioned a greater use of staff in some situations, like preparing the budget, where he said the vice-president finance (soon to be called vice-president operations) would give more of the responsibility to the accounting department.

Relying on staff for things like the budget is a great idea, because it ensures consistency. Since it’s a student position, the vice-president finance job is naturally beholden to a high rate of turnover. But by having staff, who stay for longer periods of time, involved in the role, you ensure consistency, which is much needed in the SFUO’s budgeting process after its recent financial issues.

Another good thing the motion does is it centralizes control of more of the SFUO’s services under the vice-president equity, while taking the clubs portfolio away from equity and moving it to the new vice-president internal position.

The organization of clubs has been a perennial issue for the SFUO, and this move could go a long way to fixing the problem, since they won’t have to compete for attention with services under one vice-president.

One thing the SFUO can do going forward to build on this successful motion is to clarify the roles of key staff members, especially the executive coordinator, as they play an important role in the federation’s governance. This will become more important as staff members are given a greater role in the governance process.

While it’s true that staff are internal and not directly elected, the fact that the elected officials will be leaving key aspects of their portfolios to staff, which is a good thing, also means that students are entitled to know more about the roles and expectations of those staff members.

But overall, this governance motion is a step in the right direction.