Dear KSA Council
Opinions / November 11, 2010
Former KSA executive member Steve Lee writes a letter to KSA council voicing his concerns.
I haven’t been around much since leaving office on March 31 as I’m focused on my personal life and finishing my BFA. As such, I haven’t discussed the details of what is happening now with any of you. But I do continue to read the Council agenda and minutes online, and I also follow the Kwantlen student press. As a former KSA volunteer, staff member and elected official, as well as an honorary member of the Society, I find it disheartening to see a deadlock occurring at the KSA, which has unfortunately resulted in the KSA’s Board of Directors not meeting for about a month now.
In short, what is happening right now does not look good for the KSA.
For the last few meetings, I’ve seen Council agendas become increasingly larger with many motions and issues of discussion piling up. And there are many things in the very near future that Council will need to address, including but not limited to: the 2011 budget, which is perhaps the most important document the Society’s Board approves; audit issues, which ensure the success of KSA events, expansion, operations and services (you guys need to really fight Tim’s – too many people have Tim’s cups in Surrey and not enough people have Grassroots cups); policy matters, and other planning.
I understand that there may be differences between Council members that has resulted in this deadlock, but as someone who has served in various capacities at the KSA I know for certain that the only way to address those issues is through discussion at Council itself, as well as through the many other bodies that help govern the Society. These bodies are the life force of the KSA. These bodies form the valves of the KSA’s heart and together they allow the KSA to keep on running. When these bodies meet, the business of the Society can be discussed, debated and progressed. When these bodies meet, Council members, staff, students and other interested parties can come together to discuss problems, concerns, issues, directions and plans. But when they do not meet things can stagnate and differences of opinion can entrench and compound. In short, the Society itself can be left vulnerable and open to a plethora of destructive forces. In 2004 and into 2005, I saw this happen first hand as a number of divisions between elected officials came up and how they were handled negatively impacted the KSA and its operations. Without getting into a lot of detail, these differences essentially opened the KSA up to undue outside influence. And it was this influence that resulted in the KSA staff unionizing and allowed the KSA itself to be taken over by Aaron Takhar and the RAF party. And we all know how that turned out.
So that is why I am up at 12:40 am, writing this e-mail – to urge all elected officials to give the students of Kwantlen confidence in their student leaders by starting to meet again. Make the KSA’s governance bodies a well oiled machine by meeting regularly (cause hey – you get paid to do it!). You were all elected to lead the direction of the Society and that cannot be done if the various governance bodies of the Society do not meet.
Being in the KSA can be daunting at times. We are all young students, thrust into this position of power where the movement of a million dollar organization depends on what you think. But trust the processes and allow them to work by keeping the lines of dialogue open between all of you. If you, as a Council member, are unhappy with how some things have been handled, then attend the meetings and discuss these things openly. Through discussion, differences can be resolved; or at the very least livable compromises can be reached. If you have concerns over someone else’s portfolio – ask questions. If Campus Councils have concerns about the Executive – talk to the Executive at one of their meetings or bring it up at Council. When I served in 2004-05 as the Richmond Campus Director, on our Campus Council agendas we had an item called “Council Meeting Review” where we’d discuss items that needed to be addressed at Council. We essentially assigned members of Campus Council as well as volunteers from our campus to essentially be “critics” of the various five executives – and this was done by ensuring one person sat on a committee where they could serve to bring that committee ideas from the campus as well as to bring information back to Campus Council about what was happening at the committees. But when these bodies do not meet, again, this cannot happen. This is the most important work you can do as an elected official > to come up with, vet and oversee ideas of what the Society can do to help the students of Kwantlen succeed and excell. And when I was a member of the Executive, a rule was brought in where an executive was tasked with keeping in touch with one of the campus councils. So please, use these tools that exist within the Bylaws and Regulations to address your concerns and move the Society forward.
Finally, be friendly to each other. You all come to the table with different backgrounds and experiences. Embrace those backgrounds and experiences, and use Desmond and his staff to assist you with the decisions that need to be made. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should be able to let your frustrations out at each other through constructive dialogue at a meeting and then go have a relaxed, stress free and friendly coffee together afterwards. A one year term can come and go so quickly – so make sure that you make each term the best it can be!
– Steve Lee