The Gazette evaluates this year's USC Board of Directors

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

USC Board of Directors

Every year, The Gazette composes a report card evaluating the University Students’ Council’s Board of Directors.

This year, The Gazette evaluated several key areas of the Board’s performance, including execution of responsibilities, innovation, accessibility, ability to handle criticism and presence at Council meetings, among other things.

Scores from all categories were tallied to create an overall grade for each Board member. Candidates scoring 80 per cent or higher received an “A” grade, reflecting an above-average performance. Members scoring in the 70s received a “B,” which indicates an average performance. A “C” corresponds to a sub-par performance or the inability to provide what students wanted, while a “D” reflects an inability to fulfill the position’s duties.

Fab Dolan: A

Fab Dolan, president
Fab Dolan is one of the most effective and productive presidents in recent USC history. He was a strong leader, he prioritized well and he made strides to steer the USC in a fresh direction.

Dolan drafted a comprehensive long-term plan giving the USC firm footing for the future. He was open to feedback about the plan, holding town halls and implementing suggestions like dropping the proposed merger of the VP-campus issues and VP-student events portfolios.

Some of his campaign pledges were pushed aside to complete the long-term plan, including a holiday house-check program. Several of his proposed initiatives came through, however, like his laptop-inscription program and free enviro-mugs.

Dolan’s other major initiative was battling Western administration about occupancy of the University Community Centre. He should be commended for this, as it took guts and could benefit students down the road.

He kept a tight rein on his Board and his Council. Dolan always had a well-reasoned response to criticism. However, the timing of the Board’s decision to suspend VP-campus issues Pedro Lopes is questionable, since Lopes was running for re-election at the time. If Dolan and the Board thought Lopes’ performance was poor enough to suspend him, perhaps they could have acted earlier.

Dolan has a well-deserved reputation for being a man for the corporation. He ran the USC’s business side skillfully, and commissioners and students say he took time for students and their issues. For example, Dolan assisted a student-led initiative to extend library hours.

Overall, Dolan provided the USC strong guidance by being well-informed and creating direction for the organization.

Alison Todd: C+

Alison Todd, VP-finance
Following a nail-biter victory in last year’s race for VP-finance, Alison Todd carried out her portfolio duties in a mediocre fashion this past year.

As promised in her platform, Todd enacted the ClubsNet system and, unlike other recent VPs, didn’t encounter many problems or disruptions from clubs on campus.

Todd also tabled a budget this year that saw student fees drop by nearly $50, the largest fee decrease in USC history.

While performing to the expected standard in most areas, Todd faltered in a few categories.

Her decision to take vacation time during Clubs Week II was ill-timed, as the week is one of the major events run under the finance portfolio.

With this in mind, Todd should have scheduled her vacation at a time less crucial to her portfolio.

Additionally, while ClubsNet is functioning, the site still is difficult to use and is inaccessible for club members not in executive positions.

Todd’s ability to communicate with Council was weaker than other Board members, as she frequently asked others for assistance when pressed for details during Council meetings.

In addition, Todd was the slowest in responding to media questions or requests throughout the year.

Overall, Todd achieved some success this past year, but her decision to miss Clubs Week II and inability to communicate ideas lowered her effectiveness.

Paris Meilleur: A

Paris Meilleur, VP-education
Paris Meilleur stood out from the rest of the pack. Not only did she succeed in fulfilling her obligations, she went above and beyond in every area of her portfolio.

Meilleur had a strong grasp of the portfolio’s external aspects and explained the intricacies of both the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and Canadian Alliance of Student Associations to Council and the media with clarity.

While balancing her position’s external commitments, Meilleur made herself visible on campus throughout the year, taking part in events like London Reads and the education panel during the National Student Day of Action.

Meilleur received rave reviews from the commissioners within her “education posse,” who spoke highly of her character, her support for their programming and her ability to respond to their concerns promptly.

Meilleur’s greatest accomplishment this year, however, was the innovation she brought to the portfolio.

November’s “Choose Your Own Leadership” convention was attended by nearly 60 Grade 8 students across the city and could expand next year.

Additionally, Meilleur’s recommendation to hire a full-time policy analyst for the USC should allow future VPs to focus more on internal lobbying while not affecting their external responsibilities.

All these feats were accomplished while Meilleur fulfilled her duties as president of OUSA, which consumed much of her time.

Overall, Meilleur excelled in her role and set a tough act to follow.

Pedro Lopes: D

Pedro Lopes, VP-campus issues
Pedro Lopes had lots of heart but produced few results.

He brought many new ideas to the position, as well as passion and excitement.

However, his difficulty communicating ideas and inability to offer support to the commissioners and co-ordinators under his portfolio ultimately made him an ineffective leader and VP.

Having never worked within the campus issues portfolio, Lopes had a steep learning curve at the beginning of his term. However, he used his time at Council meetings effectively, offering previews of his new initiatives and asking Council to give him feedback.

In the fall, Lopes excelled with various eye-catching and creative displays in the University Community Centre involving his interactive black box.

Many students said his anti-hate speech display raised awareness about the racism, sexism and homophobia on campus that is often ignored.

However, many of Lopes’ displays and initiatives lacked depth and research. One Council member said some displays were interesting and stylish, but offered few concrete ways to effect change or get involved.

Further, his displays failed to extend beyond the UCC, and he offered almost no programming or support to residence and housing staff.

Lopes also regularly struggled with punctuality and attendance. Several of his commissioners and co-ordinators said he frequently missed meetings and was slow to return e-mails if he responded at all.

For confidential personnel reasons, Council voted to suspend Lopes from his position for four weeks, starting March 19. Despite facing harsh criticism, Lopes left his position with dignity and grace.

He used the criticism as an opportunity to spread awareness about depression, an illness he has struggled with and wasn’t afraid to openly discuss.

While he wasn’t effective as VP-CI, Lopes deserves praise for his courage.

Vicky Simanovski: B

Vicky Simanovski, VP-student events
Vicky Simanovski’s performance as VP-student events was average. She didn’t achieve anything within her portfolio above and beyond her job description, but she did balance her books " something past VP-student events have failed to achieve in recent years.

Simanovski started the year strong with a successful new event, the charity haunted house in the University Community Centre. She was one of the most accessible Board members during this time, as she spent lots of time selling tickets and talking to students.

Charity ball had record-high attendance, Theatre Western broke even for the first time in years and Relay for Life was revived under Simanovski’s watch.

Simanovski’s decision to remove the original charity ball commissioner and reopen applications displayed her ability to promptly address an issue before it became a full-blown problem.

However, Simanovski broke some campaign promises. In particular, she didn’t execute a promised speaker series. Homecoming attendance was hardly ideal " albeit partly due to poor weather conditions " and upper-year programming was limited during O-Week and throughout the year.

While Simanovski’s hands-on approach made her accessible, it may have prevented her from implementing some platform initiatives. Simanovski should have focused more on task delegation instead of attempting to accomplish everything herself.

Event promotion is an essential part of the VP-student event’s portfolio, but media relations wasn’t one of Simanovski’s strengths. Furthermore, her council meeting board reports focused more on “thank yous” to commissioners and volunteers instead of information on upcoming events.

Simanovski should be recognized for taking control of the campus issues portfolio during Pedro Lopes’ suspension. She successfully balanced both positions’ workloads.

While Simanovski didn’t excel, she didn’t bomb either. She fulfilled her position’s mandate but won’t be remembered as an exceptional VP-student events.

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