A controversial decision by KSA council raises fears of a lawsuit.
By Paul Li
[politics bureau chief]
Kwantlen Student Association General Manager Desmond Rodenbour was fired on Wednesday, February 9. The decision was made by the KSA Council, who voted 10-5 to terminate Rodenbour’s contract with cause.
KSA Council based its decision to fire Rodenbour on the Report on Governance and Organization of the KSA, which was contracted by the KSA executive board to Baldwin and Associates January 5.
The report itself was prepared by Wayne Baldwin, who has forty years of experience in federal and local government management positions.
As part of his review, Baldwin interviewed members of Council, KSA staff and representatives of the University. He also attended meetings of the society and reviewed the bylaws, regulations, executive procedures and minutes of the Society.
The report identified several key shortcomings in the KSA, and criticised Rodenbour for either being part of the problems or not having acted in time to resolve them. In particular, the Baldwin report found issue with the lax corporate culture that was not conducive to efficient operations.
During the intense council meeting, Matt Todd, director of external affairs, referred to the report and to the ongoing issues elected members of the KSA have had with Rodenbour as reasons to terminate him with cause. Such sentiment was echoed by other council members.
Not everyone shared the opinion. Addressing the Council, student Kristina Kearley voiced concern that Council had not received legal advice concerning the termination of the contract and expressed worries on the legal ramifications of the decision.
Rodenbour had been General Manager of the KSA since October 2006, when he was hired following the Reduce-All-Fees debacle with a strong mandate for supervising the actions of elected student representatives. Prior to that, he served as commercial services manager; a position he took following years of serving as policy consultant.
Student Services Manager Catherine Wilkinson is filling in as Acting General Manager in the interim.
The Baldwin Report
The following are excerpts from the Baldwin Report, presented to KSA Council on February 9.
“The review found the governance of the KSA is in immediate need of a drastic overhaul. While people generally have good intentions, a cult of personality pervades the operation of the Society.”
“The corporate culture tolerates tardiness in report writing, low attendance at meetings, missing deadlines, and ignoring Bylaws, Regulations and Procedures.”
“Questionable behaviour on the part of senior Management is tolerated and is not addressed. Progressive discipline is non-existent, and bad examples for employees such as excessive absenteeism are not dealt with.”
“The lines between the elected body (the employer) and the unelected or appointed body (the employees) is completely blurred. The elected Council is identified and treated as employees.”
“In reaction to the abuse of power and the excesses of the RAF group, the Bylaws and the Regulations of the KSA were amended to ensure that such abuse by elected officials was not repeated. The amendments took much of the control of the finances and operating policies away from the Elected Representatives and placed them in the hands of the senior appointed staff member, the General Manager.”
The Rodenbour Affidavit
In response to the Council meeting, Rodenbour prepared a sworn affidavit to be presented in council. The affidavit broadly concerns three topics:
1) A defence of the actions of the KSA, including examples of the work the KSA has done in the past 36 months, including:
– Doubled Richmond Space, and negotiated the inclusion of that space within the KSA’sLand Title Lease.
– Successful referendums on the Student Union Building, START Volunteer service, REBOOT service, Kwantlen Intramurals, Multipass program and Social Justice Fund, amongst others. (Disclaimer: The Runner was approved by referendum within this time period as well.)
– Creation of the Campus Clubs structure and a doubling of campus events and activities.
2) Rodenbour’s long involvement in student affairs, including but not limited to a career of over 20 years serving students.