Holding committees and executive accountable will help make SFUO more efficient

Board meetings at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) have really been heating up lately. At a March 5 Board of Administration (BOA) meeting the executive took turns lobbing complaints at current president Roméo Ahimakin. One of the many accusations thrown around in both directions during that event was the idea that members of the executive were missing at key meetings, which meant that stuff wasn’t getting done as a result.

Granted, there are a lot of things coming out of SFUO board meetings that need to be addressed, so it may seem counterproductive to zero in on a seemingly “petty” concern when there are far more dramatic things going on. But while everyone is proposing grandiose ideas to fix the student federation, we might as well talk about some simple structural changes that will make further reform easier.

The SFUO constitution explicitly places importance on attendance. If a board member fails to show up too many times they’re automatically removed from the board, and can only be reinstated after an appeal. This makes sense, because BOA meetings are where SFUO policy gets voted on.

And since these meetings are public and minutes are kept, these members are also accountable to the students who elected them, who want to make sure they’re actually doing their jobs.

But after recent reports of people missing committee meetings, this principle needs to be extended to other executive gatherings as well.

BOA meetings should (in theory) accomplish a lot of important things, but they’re far from the only meaningful encounters between members, especially executives.

Not only are there executive meetings, but there are also policy and constitution committees, and the board has the ability to create more committees if need be.

Often during BOA meetings the board votes to send a motion to a given committee for review, but there is no specified date for the motion to return or to ensure the committee is working on it. If these committees can’t be held accountable to function efficiently, then the BOA will be even more dysfunctional than it already is. And we don’t need that, especially given the already high volume of lengthy meetings that have taken place in the past couple of months.

This reform would be relatively painless, as it wouldn’t cost the federation much time or money to record and post some rates of attendance. There is some effort there, but it’s far less than the constant disorganization that comes from having members, especially executive members, missing key meetings.

And this isn’t just a tool to punish or shame someone for not showing up. If a certain committee, meeting time, or meeting place sees consistently weak attendance, then the board has the data to see there’s a problem and can change these variables to make future gatherings easier on everyone.

Clearly, a lack of communication and cohesion is contributing to problems within the SFUO. Having more checks to make sure people are meeting on time would help with communication, and show the student body in general that progress is being made.