• Is open and available to students
• Professionally and personally accountable
• Led the botched tuition consultation
• Ineffective lobbying
• Stagnant approach to governance
• Overly concerned with approval
Barb Wright is by far her own worst enemy. She keeps herself constantly accountable–which is a good trait of course–but so much so to the point where others can’t help but question her credibility. Given the importance of her position as the Students’ Union President, she keeps herself so accountable that she becomes ineffective. In her current per-fomance, she is sufficient as a representative of the Students’ Union. However, she is not leading the SU to groundbreaking new places and some have said she is not leading it much at all. Such expectations are implicit of the president.
That said, here is why we’ve come to this assessment.
During her election campaign, Wright promised action on several fronts–but the most important of these was tuition.
She is the first to admit that she’s failed in regards to the tuition consultation process, but she accepts responsibility for it. She says that the consultation process is ineffective, and she sees several ways she would have done things differently if she had another chance.
Among these, Wright says she would have addressed her concerns directly to university President Dr. Harvey Weingarten, and demanded that he participate in the process to give it full legitimacy. Nonetheless, the process is over for another year, students are stuck with another tuition increase at the hand of university administrators and little Wright did this year seemed to affect the result. Yes, the chief negotiator from the university side is retiring next year, but would he say this made him handle consultation differently than in previous years?
Consultation aside, Wright made limited gains in lobbying the provincial government alongside Vice-President External Oliver Bladek. However, Bladek has worked more diligently with lobbying as per his portfolio requirements, therefore, credit doesn’t wholly belong to her, if at all. Regarding her promises of action on student debt, her greatest gains were made with suggestions to government limit the parental contribution factor on student loans, but as with all lobbying, results don’t show up for years to come.
In regards to other campaign promises, Wright’s promised action on Den food prices failed as prices still went up, and the jury is still out on her secret shopper evaluations of student services.
With results that are spotty or too early to evaluate, Wright deserves credit for being accessible to students and making great efforts to listen to student concerns (and hence the credit given for accountability), we wonder where all this listening has gone. In incorporating so many voices into her own, there is little evidence she has turned concerns into action.
Certainly the SU is more transparent because of her, but we’re asking ourselves if her failures–which she admitted to in interview–are simultaneously more apparent. None of her failures were for a lack of effort, and while she isn’t necessarily doing such a bad job that she detracts from SU efforts, we’re still waiting to see presidential results on anything significant. This is especially true given the fact she didn’t come through on the most important issue of her electoral year. With five months remaining, she still has an opportunity to remedy her previous complaints on consultation and come through on her other promises.