After inquiries from councilors and months of uncertainty, the UPEISU Council discussed its evaluation of SU executives’ performance at its October 29th meeting. The results of the evaluation were discussed in a closed session and remain confidential.
Council conducted the evaluation in mid-October, two months later than the August date mandated by the SU’s executive committee bylaw. The earlier evaluation date was introduced by the 2016-17 Council as an opportunity to provide feedback to executives earlier in their terms and to address concerns about potential executive inaction toward feedback provided through the December evaluation.
In a written statement to The Cadre, Chair Zak Jarvis cited a number of reasons for the delay. Among those reasons were the late hiring of a Chair, delays in the approval of questions, and concerns about transparency if the results were discussed at their October 14th meeting, which was held at the Rodd Brudenell, rather than at a meeting held on campus.
Potential Conflicts Unaddressed
The SU’s conflict of interest policy requires all councilors to avoid conflicts; however, it appears at least one councilor with a declared conflict did not recuse himself from the discussion of executive evaluations.
Jose Barros, a business representative, did not leave the room during the discussion of President Hammad Ahmed’s evaluations, despite both individuals having previously declared their status as roommates as a conflict of interest at the October 14th Council meeting.
When contacted for comment, Barros explained that he had offered to step out if Council thought it was necessary. “I was just really unsure if it was necessary,” he said. “Since the chair didn’t see it as a problem either, I stayed in the room.”
Room for More Transparency, Some Say
Although the results of performance evaluations were not made public, some members of Council question the need for confidentiality. Vice President Academic & External Taya Nabuurs said she was initially unaware that the results of evaluations were confidential.
“I was surprised to find out they weren’t public,” said Nabuurs. “I assumed they were.”
Nabuurs supports making the results public. “My salary is paid by the student fees that we collect from the student body,” she added. “I think [the results] should be public.”
Board of Governors representative Michael Ferguson echoed Nabuurs’ views, stating “if the student body is paying for the executives, then they have the right to know how councilors are evaluating them.”
Vice President Finance William McGuigan said he did not know where he stood on the issue, although he cautioned about potential human resources issues associated with making the results public.
The Cadre reached out to other student unions in the region to learn how they handled executive evaluations. The Mount Allison Students’ Union informally evaluates performance, with the results being public. The StFX Students’ Union only conducts performance evaluations if requested, and limited information is shared only if the individual being evaluated is removed from their position. The Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association is currently developing an evaluation for their executives and public availability of the results has yet to be determined.
Although the evaluation reports drafted by executives to inform Council of their activities and accomplishments are to be made publically available to SU members and campus media, they have not yet been published by the SU. The Cadre was directed by Chair of Council Jarvis to refer to the meeting minutes of the September 10th Council meeting, saying that the executive reports provided therein were the same ones used during the evaluations.
The meeting minutes of that meeting are available here.
By: Nathan Hood
Photo: UPEI Galleries