UVSS election season begins with another resignation and the announcement of a governance review
Four out of five of the lead directors have now resigned from the University of Victoria Student Society’s (UVSS) Board of Directors. Earlier in the semester, three lead directors all resigned in one meeting, and another resigned in late February.
These four resignations fit into a pattern emerging within the UVSS. Boards in previous years also saw positions vacated by directors who cited mental health problems and frustration with UVSS governance among some of their reasons for leaving. This year, however, has seen an unprecedented loss of lead directors, and the Board is finally looking into its legacy of burnout.
During the UVSS meeting on Jan. 24, 2022, Q Roxas, Robin Pollard, and Marran Dodds all resigned simultaneously. Roxas was the director of events, Pollard was the director of campaigns and community relations, and Dodds was the director of outreach and university relations.
In their joint statement, they cited several reasons for their resignations: “Systemic issues and bureaucracy, a lack of support for Board members, inequitable compensation for the expected workload of directors … and respectability politics, performativity, and tokenism,” the statement reads.
The statement also claims that the resignations were both individual acts and meant to reflect solidarity and push for change within the UVSS.
Roxas, Pollard, and Dodds would not be the last ones to leave the UVSS this semester. Dipayan Nag, the former director of finance and operations resigned in an emergency meeting called on Feb. 25, 2022.
Nag said in an interview with the Martlet that his resignation was not an easy decision, but there were several reasons why it occurred.
“[The resignation] came after quite a bit of thought and introspection on my part,” said Nag. “But I felt that it was necessary for me to resign because of my mental health, with so much drama going on, I felt I needed to take a step back for myself. As well as some of the rumours going around, I just didn’t want to be associated with it any longer.”
Nag also commented on the unfortunate position he was put in after the resignations earlier in the semester. After Dodd’s resignation, Nag took on the responsibility of chairing the UVSS Board meetings. Chairing the meetings “put a lot of pressure on [his portfolio],” as he had to try and fulfill other work while also focusing on his own.
As with those that previously resigned, Nag also cited a dramatic increase in his hours worked.
“I am only paid for 35 hours [a week], and I try and keep it at 35 hours,” Nag said. “I [currently] have about, I think, two weeks of overtime, which I do not get paid for.”
At each meeting, the directors must share the hours that they worked since the last meeting and provide details on what that work entailed. There was a great number of hours being worked directly before the resignation of Roxas, Dodds, and Pollard, who are required to put in 70 hours of work on a biweekly basis.
At the Jan. 10 meeting, Roxas reported a total of 87.5 hours worked, Dodds reported 21.25, and Pollard’s report was absent. By Jan. 24, the meeting of the resignations, Dodds reported 76.25 hours, Roxas reported another 87 hours, and Pollard reported the required 70 hours of work.
Though there were differing viewpoints on the Board, Nag told the Martlet he would miss the people he worked with and how much he was able to learn from them.
These four resignations point to a larger issue within the UVSS. Out of last year’s Board, four of the directors-at-large and one of the leads resigned. Previous Martlet coverage reports that some of the resignations cited mental health and/or frustrations with the culture of UVSS leadership.
During the meeting on Feb. 14, 2022, the UVSS Board passed a motion to begin a governance review of the organization. The call for proposals cites that “student burnout is on the rise,” and that there is a desire for the UVSS to address burnout “as it occurs on the Board.”
According to the document, the project will begin on May 9, 2022, the report will be submitted by Dec. 23, and there will be a presentation on the findings of the report by Jan. 31, 2023. The document claims that the budget for the project could be anywhere from $25 000 to $40 000.
In his interview with the Martlet, Nag stated that the report will focus on the workload of the directors and other issues within the UVSS like the future of its finances.
Nag’s resignation and the announcement of the governance review come as the next UVSS election season begins. Despite all the resignations, Nag said he would still encourage people to run.
“I would encourage, but I would also ask them to talk with someone who has gone through those positions to get a full picture … and see if it is a good fit for them,” Nag said. “One of the worst things that can happen, and I fear it will happen in this one and in the next elections, is that I do not think a lot of people are going to run.”
In the print edition of this article it stated that all five of the last year’s board resignations cited mental health issues and/or frustrations with the culture of UVSS leadership. This was in error as only some did. We sincerely regret this error.