The SAITSA elections results on March 30, 2017 welcomed a new team of executive council members. Some old, some new, but all with the same bottom line: To make SAIT the best possible experience for students through engagement, transparency and advocacy.
Students had a first hand chance to learn what each newly-elected and re-elected candidate wanted to bring to the table at Meet the Candidates Panel the night before the elections.
It wouldn’t be fair to judge some of their hopes for the future without first looking at the past.
First, there is one thing everybody can agree on, there needs to be better accountability and transparency of our student government.
This isn’t implying that a particular person isn’t either of those, but rather a long-term, consistent expectation and practice within government on all levels is needed.
Let’s start with transparency — where is our current president?
Before diving into that rabbit hole, we must first back up.
In the Special Meeting Board of Directors’ minutes, from Friday, December 16, 2016, a motion was made to dismiss president Gar Gar and vice president student life Connor Goodfellow from their elected positions for violating one or more of SAITSA’s bylaws, under section 9.1.
Neither Gar nor Goodfellow’s motion for removal passed, however, only Goodfellow appears to be presently active in his role.
SAITSA has responded to inquiries only with that the president is on vacation and couldn’t comment on his return, nor on when he left.
Since then, the president’s position has been anything less than spotty, with no confirmation on his estimated return date, one can’t help but wonder where the student president has gone and why he’s not here representing them.
His absence became obvious when it was noted he was not at meetings, not responding to emails or voicemails, not at SAITSA events, in his office, or on campus.
Gar has been unavailable for comment.
While he is in fact SAITSA’s president, his presence is non-existent.
Second, advocacy was a particularly popular cause during campaigns for the elected candidates. It didn’t go unnoticed that some of the ideas coming from the candidates who won lacked research to back up their goals.
For example, vice president academic and future SAITSA president, Alex Dimopoulos, and returning vice president student life, Goodfellow both said that there needs to be more funding for clubs during Meet the Candidates Night.
Goodfellow said during an interview for a March 20 issue of The Weal that “we doubled club funding.”
Although Goodfellow had a hand in doubling the amount of club funding last year from $20,000 to $40,000, the clubs never used the full $20,000 that was there in the first place.
Upon questioning this on Panel Night, Goodfellow could only say that “it was a great accomplishment — increased club funding means clubs can do more things.”
The doubling of funds was Goodfellow’s response to an increase of student engagement and club growth under his leadership, even when the initial $20,000 was not being used.
Following that, Dimopoulos suggested increasing the club funding up to $60,000.
Since the current clubs did not spend the $20,000 last year or this year, one must ask why they wouldn’t create the demand before the supply.
Dimopoulos stated that he wants to see increased transparency with SAITSA as an organization.
“We need to take it one step further, what if we allow recordings at [Board of Director meetings],” said Dimopoulos.
Recording the public meetings have been a point of contention in the past, as it made some of the board members uncomfortable.
The Board of Directors’ meetings are held publicly and are recorded through minutes, which are available on SAITSA.com.
Correction: As per the March 20 issue of The Weal, in the Year in Review news article, VP Student Life Connor Goodfellow reported that he held a clubs expo and doubled club funding as one of his accomplishments. To set the record straight, the club funding increase was not an accomplishment of Goodfellow’s, nor was it one of his goals. Rather, it was already in place before he arrived and was an accomplishment of the organization.