SFUO President Hadi Wess to absorb position in the interim
On Tuesday, July 4, Jonathan Chin-Fook resigned as vice-president social of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), two months after the start of his mandate.
In an interview with the Fulcrum, Chin-Fook cited “interpersonal issues between executive members and (himself)” as one of the main reasons for his resignation, and that it was “no longer in the best interest for (him) to remain.”
According to SFUO president Hadi Wess, Chin-Fook “had previously expressed to the executive that he was considering resigning,” and took time off work to decide whether or not to remain in his position.
Chin-Fook also discussed the “high stress” work environment he faced, specifically the demands of the vice-president social position due to the “major workload of tasks.”
According to Chin-Fook, his workload was made even more difficult due to the fallout of the SFUO’s financial crisis two years ago, where the federation laid off staff to avoid bankruptcy.
“There is plenty of work to go around which makes it more and more difficult to achieve results on time, and oftentimes receiving the blame,” said Chin-Fook. “This, despite missing two full-time summer staff and my newness to the position, while that is the nature of any position of power, it became harder when criticism comes from your colleagues.”
“I believe there needs to be a greater focus on mental health and treatment of members within organizations like the SFUO as oftentimes it can become overwhelming for folks to deal with,” said Chin-Fook, noting a “cycle of conflict” within the executive, and that grievances brought forward during in-camera sessions, which are closed to the public, made him feel “absolutely worthless.”
“There needs to be greater prevention and tools used to stop this, or at least mediate problems within the executive,” said Chin-Fook.
Chin-Fook also acknowledged that there had been “talk of impeachments and investigations,” saying “it became an absolutely impossible task to execute (his duties) properly.”
When asked about these claims, Wess denied them, saying, “Constitutionally, a director cannot impeach another director, thus it is entirely incorrect that the executive was trying to impeach the vice-president social.”
Section 18.104.22.168 of the SFUO constitution states that the impeachment of a member of the executive can be initiated by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Administration (BOA), or by a petition.
However, according to Wess, “there were serious concerns about the organization of 101 Week, which were then flagged to the BOA as a preventative measure.”
With the position of vice-president social now vacant, Wess will take on the role. Currently, this involves planning for 101 Week—the largest item in the mandate of the vice-president social—which is set to take place September 3–9.
“Given that I was the vice-president social for two terms, I am very familiar with the demands of the position,” said Wess.
Wess will assume all duties of the vice-president social until the board appoints an interim or the position is filled in the October by-election.
Note: A previous edition of this article stated that Hadi Wess would fill the vice-president social position for the remainder of the summer. This is not necessarily the case, as the SFUO’s board could appoint someone else sooner than that.