Communication mishap delays student trustee referendum

Lachlan Johnson

Due to a failure in communication, the Student Trustee Resolution passed by the student body in a referendum last spring was never communicated to the Board of Trustees.

Last May, students voted to pass the Student Trustee Resolution, marking the first time in recent memory that students have voted directly on an ASWC resolution. The resolution outlined the student body’s formal request that a committee of students and trustees be formed to create and implement a new student-held position on the board.

It was the job of then-ASWC President Tim Reed to send the resolution along to the Board of Trustees, at which point it would be left up to the Board whether or not to respond to the students’ request. In an interview with The Pioneer this fall, Brad McMurchie, chair of the Board of Trustees, claimed he and the board had never received the text of the resolution.

“This [conversation with The Pioneer] is the first I have heard about the resolution. I’m still not entirely sure where it came from or what happened with it after it passed,” said McMurchie in an email to The Pioneer. “Therefore, it is difficult for me to say much of anything about it. I can say that the issue of a student Trustee, as opposed to student participation on Trustee Committees, has not been formally raised with the Board since 2013.”

Reed did not respond to requests for comment before this article went to press. However, no record exists of an email being sent from the official ASWC President email.

Current ASWC President Tatiana Kaehler was not aware that the trustees had not received the resolution. Because the resolution was passed in the final weeks of his term, Reed and Kaehler agreed that she would be in charge of advocating for the resolution in the fall. However, she was under the impression that the resolution was already forwarded to the trustees by Reed, and the trustees had rejected the resolution’s request, as ASWC discussed the issue of a student trustee with the board in a separate instance in 2013. At the time, the two bodies reached a compromise in expanding the role of students on various committees which advise the board, but not allowing students a representative on the board itself.

Kaehler plans to formally communicate the Student Trustee Resolution to the trustees, along with an explanation of the referendum process, should ASWC confirm that the email was never sent. In the long-term, she hopes to review the ASWC by-laws governing the referendum process to ensure the procedures for resolutions passed in referendums are clear.

“Moving forward I’m going to work to ensure this doesn’t prevent the resolution from receiving the full attention that it should,” said Kaehler.