Bryan West came into this term as Students’ Union President with the best possible job experience: SU President. The experience shows. And although West has always been well spoken and diplomatic, difficulties within the SU and the current state of post-secondary have ensured his skills for diplomacy are both needed and productive.
West is very focused externally, occasionally to the detriment of keeping tabs on his executive cabinet. However, his passion for student concerns and his ability to hob-nob with senior U of C administration and provincial politicians has helped ensure U of C students a voice in the Alberta advanced education review. West is informed and articulate, and the big decision-makers respect him for it and are willing to work with him. He has pushed for and helped secure continued quality money for the SU from the U of C Board of Governors.
On the federal front, West loses nothing in his ability to schmooze and will boast of encounters with throngs of politicians made during Canadian Alliance of Student Association jaunts to Ottawa. It is arguable that these encounters have more influence on the resumes and personal networking of the students involved than they do on policy, but West fulfills his role at them well. The pictures in his office of him smiling beside politicians like Paul Martin attest.
West’s second term has allowed him to competently continue with a number of objectives carried over from last year. The planned Student Commons stands out as something moving forward more or less how it appeared in his election platform.
However, his plan to reinvent the Students’ Academic Assembly with the Campus Core project is currently wheezing breath, beaten to the ground by a number of legitimate concerns out of SAA. West’s ability to find a compromise in almost any situation may yet save the project, but certainly not on promised timelines or in its current form.
He’s hardworking and intelligent, but sometimes too eager to push through with initiatives like Campus Core and recent plans to change the SU general election. The result is opposition from Students’ Legislative Council, and frustration for West. To his credit, he’s no megalomaniac, and will bow to the wishes of SLC every time.
West’s greatest strength internally is his ability to hold the whole shit-show together. The various executive portfolios hit new highs for collaboration with the SU’s beefed up presence at U of C 101. The result was a credit to West and to all involved, but efforts since then like Political Action Week have been marked by barely concealed conflict. Keeping the organization’s external face united while sorting out the numerous conflicts between his VP External and her adversaries among su staff and fellow elected officials has been no small feat. West’s reputation as a self-described bridge-builder is withstanding the test, even if–like the bridge over the River Kwai–the thing blows up in the end anyway.