Simon Fraser Student Society hires unqualified Executive Director
The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) touts a 50 year history of “maintaining its tradition of students working together to enrich and improve the life of students. The truth is only somewhat reflective of that statement, and today’s SFSS is certainly not that. The hiring of former business person and liberal non-profit head Martin Wyant is a significant example of the backwards direction the organisation has set for itself.
What are students’ unions for?
It is important to remember that the reason students’ unions exist is first and foremost to promote the interests of students, particularly the elimination of financial barriers to post-secondary education. The SFSS constitution reflect this in articles 2(c) and 2(d):
- To promote, among other goals democratically determined by the Society, the principles of public, universally accessible, high quality post-secondary education, and of meaningful undergraduate student participation in all aspects of University governance.
- To facilitate collective action by undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University, within the Province of British Columbia, and elsewhere in support of these principles.
Despite these articles, when was the last time the SFSS board members stepped aside from their silly, wasteful, and irrelevant building project to actually organise “collective action by undergraduate students” to fight for the “principles of public, universally accessible, high quality post-secondary education”?
Martin Wyant, symbol of failure
The writer doesn’t know Martin Wyant, the SFSS’s newly hired Executive Director. Nothing here is meant to reflect poorly on him as a person, there are plenty of “non-political” non-profits in the world, maybe he would be great as the lead of a Boys and Girls Club or Community Futures branch.
However, the SFSS is a political group that’s constitutional purpose is the elimination of barriers to post-secondary education and the collective action of students. Wyant was a local chamber of commerce big wig – not a student activist. It is as if the SFSS leadership hasn’t read their own governance documents, learned their own history, or – more likely – don’t value the principles reflected in the constitution of the Society.
SFSS needs a radical re-direction
The undergraduate students of SFU – who are the members of the SFSS, each and every one – are the only people who can change the direction of the organisation. All it would take are a handful of dedicated SFU students who want their students’ union to focus on the things that matter: leveraging the sheer number of SFU students to enact political change in the interest of students.
SFSS elections happen each year. ‘Slates’ are allowed (political party, essentially). It would not be exceptionally difficult for politically inclined students to beat out the current trend of flimsy liberal student “leaders”, but the ridicules building project on the back burner, and focus on rebuilding the capacity for SFU students to fight back against tuition fee hikes. It just takes some work.