Campuses clash over WLUSU structure

– Matt Mente, News Editor

Brantford students are outraged at a new restructuring of WLUSU put before the Board of Directors. Many feel that they are being marginalized and that the voice of Brantford students is being taken away.

The proposal announced on January 20 aims to restructure the executive positions of WLUSU. It will replace all existing Vice president and Associate vice president positions in Waterloo and Brantford with five new positions which will amalgamate the responsibilities of all the dissolved jobs. These will be two Vice Presidents: Campus Experience, one for each Campus. The remaining three will be responsible for both Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

Chris Walker Chair of the Board of Directors explains that “current system is inefficient,” and “for the first time WLUSU is pushing for multi campus governance.” To this end WLUSU recently established five multi governance principles.

An independent multi-governance council was established to work towards a practical application of the five principles. This council hired a human resources firm to review the executive structure of WLUSU. This process did not involve student input. By Walker’s admission, there was a “lack of advocacy.”

The first stage of the proposal was voted through three days after it was placed before the BOD.

Brantford opposition to the restructure came to a head when Nick Savage, WLUSU External Affairs Coordinator, hosted a pair of unofficial student meetings discussing the possibility of Brantford establishing an independent student’s union.

The meetings attracted about 50 students from every program and year of study, many of whom volunteer for WLUSU in a variety of positions.

Savage was highly critical of the new structure claiming it is being “forced on Brantford” and that students are fed up with the “dictatorship like Student Union.”

After lengthy discussion at both meetings, Savage and his associates decided that their ideal course of action was to petition the student body to either establish an independent Brantford Students Union or to impeach Gibson. Both ideas received support as ways to establish Brantford’s influence within the greater Laurier community even if either failed at referendum.

“This is being done because Gibson wants a legacy,” Savage said at the meetings. “It’s us against one person at this point.”

While the topic of Brantford establishing an independent Student’s Union has been considered before it’s only ever been speculation.

Some students point out that it will occur eventually as Brantford campus grows but the question of exactly when that point comes is uncertain. Walker adamantly states that it “can’t be done Laurier Brantford can’t sustain the union as it is”

Since the student meetings further announcements about the restructuring as well as hiring have been delayed.

Nick Gibson ,President & CEO of WLUSU, says that they “expected some anxiety and uncertainty.” However, he looks on the positive side of the unrest stating that, “It’s good to know that when issues come up people will get involved.”

Gibson has said that the restructure will undergo a student consultation process before moving any further.

He states that, “The structure as we proposed, it is going through, but specific job descriptions are still being worked on.”

The new consultation process will include a student survey and two open sessions one in Waterloo and one in Brantford. The Brantford open session is scheduled for 2pm on Thursday in the committee space.

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