As the News Editor, I have made the executive decision to cut the McMaster Students Union board of directors report card we typically print in the last issue of the Silhouette before the exam break. Instead, we will print a check-in where we consider how far the board has come with their year plans.
In previous years, the Silhouette published report cards where the staff evaluated the work the board has done so far in their term. As a part of this team last year, this process was fraught with issues.
First and foremost, the report card style unfairly favoured the vice president (Education) and vice president (Finance), as they are able to easily prove they have completed aspects of their year plans.
The vice president (Administration)’s job focuses on supporting employees and handling the day-to-day problems of the union, while the president focuses on long term projects. These are often difficult to prove and would result in lower marks relative to other board members, something I did not appreciate about the report card format.
In addition, we often run into gaps in knowledge that often cannot be filled without causing issues for those we ask. It is unfair of us to ask MSU employees to go on the record and speak against their superiors when their term is not yet over, but this was often what we had to do to confirm the board’s job performance. It was rare people would feel comfortable speaking out on the record, and I would not expect them to do so.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the report card format was a fantastic way to jolt the board to work harder toward their goals and bring attention to their successes and failures. But grading the board would either imply one board member is better than the others, lack the information needed to be accurate or ask people to disparage their superiors on the record. None of these are ideal but unless we can address each of these concerns, the board’s report card will always fall flat.
With this in mind, the board has to start addressing some of these concerns on their own. There should be a formalized system for MSU employees and members to address their concerns and then publicize this feedback. As paying members of the MSU, people deserve to know what the board is doing during their terms.
To their credit, the board does relay information about their work to the public via social media and their weekly President’s Page in every issue of the Silhouette. But without an open and anonymous forum to discuss the success of their work, it will be difficult to analyze their work.
The check-in will focus on what the board has done and hopefully this will spark a discussion about whether or not the board has achieved enough since their election.