By: The Cadre Editorial Board
Before reading our report cards, check out our rubric here. Looking for another report card? Find them here: Vice President Academic and External (here), Vice President Finance (here), and Vice President Student Life (here).
William McGuigan became the Student Union President following a year of spectacles within the organization. McGuigan has spent his time since then re-building the SU brand internally and externally, while also completing projects and starting new ones, although a bit behind schedule.
One of the biggest issues facing the SU this year was a need for transparency between the executive team, councillors, and students. McGuigan has made some progress in this area by working alongside Director of Communications Sweta Daboo to implement OpenUPEISU, a section of the SU’s website that contains internal surveys and reports that were previously only available upon request. McGuigan also plans to create a survey in January for students to assess councillors, executives, and the student union as a whole, with quantitative results made public. This is an interesting idea as council has never been evaluated as a whole before.
When McGuigan ran for President earlier this year, he said he wanted to make executive evaluations public, something he now says will not happen. Executive evaluations are surveys completed by SU councillors every August and December that evaluate the performance of the executive team. The results of the survey are confidential. McGuigan told The Cadre this will continue to be the case based on recommendations from the SU’s lawyer that performance reviews shouldn’t be made public, which leaves us wondering how dedicated to transparency McGuigan really is.
McGuigan’s most significant project to date was the completion of the student centre refresh project that saw The Wave transform into The Fox and Crow. McGuigan saw this task through to completion, building on the momentum he gained during his term as Vice-President Finance last year. McGuigan is now determined to see the campus pub turn a profit, something that hasn’t happened in years. October and November profit-loss summaries haven’t been released yet so it’s difficult to say whether or not the Fox and Crow will bring in a profit, but if it does it could mean more opportunities for the SU to invest in events and services.
Another project McGuigan has been working on, along with the New Initiatives and Future Directions (NIFD) committee, is updating the Student Union Strategic Plan that expired last year. In his mandate, McGuigan intended to have the project completed by November, but admits it likely won’t be presented to council until January due to the NIFD committee not gaining all of it’s members until October.
McGuigan also plans to update the SU constitution, by-laws and it’s policies, but the project is proving to take a lot longer than expected. Council has been updating it’s policies all throughout the semester, but the constitution will need to go to a referendum in January, after which by-laws will be created.
Another referendum will be held in March for students to vote on whether or not to keep funding Aspiria, a student assistance program that offers counselling and tips for students to stay healthy. Promoting the program has been a struggle for the SU, and McGuigan says a solution could be to create a video to promote it, although this hasn’t been done yet.
One of the responsibilities of the President is to act as a liaison between the SU and groups outside of the university. This is something McGuigan has done well so far, particularly at the federal level. McGuigan was elected to the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) Board of Directors as Treasurer, where he has been working with the organization to make their finances easier to understand. CASA’s number one policy priority this year is international student support, something that McGuigan has advocated for in Ottawa as well as at UPEI in terms of funding.
At the provincial level, McGuigan says part of his role is to support VPAX Emma Drake. Municipally, McGuigan played a large role in the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign held in October to encourage students to vote, and was key in bringing voting stations to campus during the 2018 municipal election. McGuigan also plans to work with the city regarding safety of the Browns Court crosswalk after the new council is sworn in on December 6.
McGuigan noted in his interview with The Cadre that he is not where he would like to be with many of his goals. We agree that there is a lot of work to complete before the end of his term, but we can see that he is making tangible progress. McGuigan has done a great job so far at re-building the SU brand from behind the scenes by supporting his executive team in their initiatives, ensuring businesses stay relevant and successful, and addressing transparency within the organization.
Photo: UPEI Gallery