WUSA board of directors has not had any publicly accessible meetings since moving to its new governance structure this September. Based on minutes it uploaded on its website, this term WUSA has started updating its policies, assigned stakeholder and committee assignments to directors and approved a motion to delay their equity audit.
In September, WUSA moved from a bicameral governance system to a unicameral one. Earlier, WUSA had two governing bodies — council, a representative legislative body, responsible for budgeting, establishing administered programs, regulating elections, and governing societies, services, and clubs, and board, WUSA’s strategic-decision making body, responsible for guiding its financial, human resources, legal and contractual affairs. Under the current system, the board is now responsible for both the representative advocacy and the fiduciary functions of the association.
In an email correspondence with Imprint, WUSA President Stephanie Ye-Mowe said, “The board meeting schedule will be public and agendas will be posted in advance of meetings. While board meetings are open to general members, we still haven’t figured out how best to facilitate this — whether it be through livestream, request for invite etc.”
So far, neither has the meeting schedule been made public, nor have there been any meetings where the agenda has been posted in advance. However, public minutes of meetings have been made available online, with the last uploaded minutes of the Nov. 2 meeting. WUSA board has had at least one more meeting since then, on Nov. 9.
The new governance system also decreased the number of WUSA executives from five to two and increased the responsibilities of WUSA directors. To facilitate the additional responsibility of directors, WUSA board decided various stakeholder assignments for all their directors at their Sept. 21 meeting. Ye-Mowe has tasked WUSA directors Rania Datoo and Naman Sood to prepare a proposal on how they can display stakeholder assignment information to students.
WUSA has also appointed directors and at-large members to the various board committees. Ye-Mowe has explained that it is her intention that these committees would be the where directors would provide updates on their advocacy work and where WUSA’s advocacy stances would be developed and debated before being put forward to board for final approval.
According to discussion documented in the minutes of board’s Sept. 21 meeting, “most committees are open and non confidential so students … typically can attend committee meetings,” however, there have been no publicly accessible meetings of any of WUSA’s committees yet.
According to an update provided by Ye-Mowe on Nov. 11, “only the committee of presidents, the co-op and experiential education committee (CEEC) and the finance committee have met so far. Minutes need to be ratified by the committees before being posted publically, so there’ll always be about a two-week to a month delay from when the meeting took place to when the official minutes are published. The committee of presidents didn’t meet quorum on Monday [Nov. 7] so I’ll need to do an e-vote before those minutes can be posted. Finance has yet to have its second meeting. CEEC’s ‘should’ be up.”
As of Nov. 22, no minutes have been shared for any of the committees.
The board also decided to push WUSA’s equity audit to the next governing year. The equity audit was proposed as part of WUSA’s 2020–25 long range plan. While the minutes did not provide details about the discussion behind this decision, Ye-Mowe explained that the conversation acknowledged that without an updated policy manual reflective of WUSA’s new structure or fully articulated norms and practices, the equity consultants would not have much to work with.
“Generally, for consultants to do their work, they’d need to conduct interviews with staff, at-large members, organizational volunteers and elected representatives and review governing documents. If we’d only be able to provide them with outdated documents, we wouldn’t have gotten much value from their expertise. Similarly, we’d only be able to speak to experiences under an old model. It’s possible that some issues may resolve themselves in the new model, whereas others emerge. This is what I articulated to board when I brought forward the motion. Additionally, director [Matthew] Schwarze had expressed his preference to not overwork the staff/execs — which was a risk associated with doing the review this year.”
She also provided additional context regarding the equity audit beyond what what was discussed at board. She explained, “Back in 2020–21 board had reached out to multiple equity consulting groups to request their services. Given the state of the world at the time, every group we reached out to [was] already committed to other clients. In spring, we finally heard back from one organization and the 21–22 president brought a proposal to board asking to retain their services. 21–22 board felt as if the timeline proposed for the project didn’t make sense given that we were already in the midst of building out new structures to accommodate the new governance model. There was a bit of back-and-forth then about whether it made sense to ask folks to review a system that wasn’t fully built out, and how we should probably have more than one organization to choose from. At the end of it, the 21–22 board settled on asking staff to get a proposal from at least one other company and bring the item back for consideration by the new board. We received another proposal, but it was my recommendation that we hold off on this strategic plan project until the next governing year. With all the work that still needs doing in relation to the new governance model, I felt it was irresponsible to start a new project.”
As of Nov. 2, the board has discussed but not yet approved their annual plan for the governing year 2022–23 which ends in April 2023. In a regular year, WUSA has to approve their annual plan by June 30, which is within two months of the beginning of the governance year. However, the governance year started in September this year due to the transition to the new structure, and WUSA did not discuss what the deadline for the approval of the annual plan should be.