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Executives eye expansion

The DSU is going to need a bigger table (Photo by Chris Parent)
The DSU is going to need a bigger table (Photo by Chris Parent)

The Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) is considering adding another member to their executive council, which would mean almost an additional $30,000 per year in expenses for the DSU.

The proposed new position would mean separating the positions of vice president academic and external.

Aaron Beale is the current VP academic and external. He describes the current job as a “huge portfolio … and the two jobs aren’t necessarily related.”

Beale says he hopes council will be able to start work on separating the two positions by the end of this year.

For this to happen, the DSU’s constitution would have to be changed, which can only be done at an annual general meeting or by referendum.

Before it can reach that stage, it first must pass the DSU’s Board of Operations, which will determine if the proposal is financially viable. The council will then have to vote whether or not to add the new position.

Elizabeth Croteau, chair of the Board of Operations, says it’s highly unlikely a new executive position will be in place by the next academic year.

“I think for due process to be followed,” says Croteau, “it’s going to take more than four months.”

The four-month time frame she refers to spans from November to the end of February. Any changes to executive positions for the 2014-15 school year would need to be approved before the next election, which means that the additional position would have to clear the Board of Operations, council, and then be passed, most likely via referendum, by the student body.

Right now, Croteau says the new position is still in the fact-gathering phase.

“If you want it for next year, it’s going to be rushed. And I don’t think this is something we can afford to rush.”

However, Croteau characterizes the likelihood of the new position coming to a vote as “probable,” most likely impacting the 2015-16 year.

Another route the DSU could take is adjusting of the responsibilities the current executives. Since this would not require a constitutional change, it could be passed just by the Board of Operations and a two-thirds vote at council.

One key change could  be a part-time Orientation Week co-ordinator. One argument against the current structure is that the position of VP student life is too focused on Orientation Week, at the expense of other responsibilities. Hiring a coordinator who would report directly to the VP student life would simplify the process while still allowing the VP student life to maintain oversight.

Croteau says that hiring more part-time staff could have a “very positive” financial impact on the DSU.

“Right now, each DSU executive can hire part-time staff … without the kind of oversight that you would typically think of in a job environment,” she says. “I think if we actually looked at distributing these small jobs and putting it in policy very clearly, this person does this job and gets paid this amount of money, then it all becomes much more accountable.”

Hiring more part-time staff could also solve another issue Beale mentioned with the DSU, that the executives spend what he feels is an “inordinate” amount of time on menial tasks.

“You run on a platform,” he says, “but then you spend all this time doing logistical work.”

But, it’s still too early to say much.

“We’re trying to figure out what the ideal is,” says Beale, “and then we’re going to get the ball rolling on creating it.”

A seven page draft has since been sent to council to discuss in November. It reportedly calls for two additional executive positions.

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