Staff review process questioned

By Ruth Davenport

A recent investigation into Students’ Union bylaws by Academic Commissioner Nic Porco revealed the fact that, contrary to common practice, commissioners are permitted to attend confidential human resources performance reviews of SU staff members. This discrepancy between theory and practice has several commissioners up in arms.

Commissioners have historically been excluded from the regular performance reviews of the 48 full-time SU employees, conducted by the five executive members, the general manager and the human resources coordinator. Porco believes that should change.

"This is an accountability measure," explained Porco. "If the executive were to do something silly or illegal, the commissioners’ silence could be broken because there are reasons for doing so. Sometimes the executive makes irrational decisions. I think they know that and maybe that’s why they want to change this bylaw."

At the Jan. 9 meeting of the Students’ Legislative Council, Vice-President external Duncan Wojtaszek brought forth a contentious bylaw amendment which would officially exclude commissioners from these sessions.

"The SU is student representation, hence, students should be helping to make decisions," stated Porco. "The executive harps on how confidentiality would be broken, but if you have five students there already, I don’t see how two more is going to increase that risk to a point that is unacceptable."

Wojtaszek disagreed.

"I think the fewer people involved in the process the better," he said. "Student opinion gets heard, it just happens to be five student executive opinions, rather than five or seven other students. I firmly believe this is the right decision for the organization."

A commissioner in attendance at an in camera session has no speaking or voting rights and may not discuss the events of the session outside the room. This fact prompted some council members to question the purpose of having the commissioner present at all.

"There was a spirit to the bylaws when they were written," said Porco. "And obviously executives in the past have been circumventing it. I think I’m more opposed to the fact that they’ve been excluding us even though the bylaws say we’re allowed to be there."

Porco plans to propose another amendment to permit the commissioners to not only attend the in camera sessions, but also to speak. The amendment will be debated and voted on at the Jan. 23 SLC.