In September, the AMS saw three resignations from its senior management team. In an interview with The Journal, two of those former salaried AMS staff discussed their experiences on the student society.
For Katie*, the workload in her senior management role was “gradually impossible,” in stark contrast to initial promises made by AMS executive team RTZ that the role would be more manageable this year than in the past. In many instances, Katie felt she had to work beyond the hours expected from the position.
“I had a huge problem with not going overtime because I was new and because the service was hard. It’s 70 people under you,” she explained.
Instead of offering solutions, Katie said the person she directly reported to would only point out her personal faults, claiming the job would be more manageable if she were better at her role.
Without a way to resolve her problems, Katie approached Human Resources and received comments telling her to manage her time and “schedule better.”
“In any other job, if things got really difficult, there is always someone who can take things off your plate,” Katie said.
Riley* began her time with the AMS looking forward to working with RTZ. Her role saw her report directly to AMS President Zaid Kasim. According to Riley, everyone on senior management was initially friendly and even portrayed a sense of family unity.
Weeks after being on the job, Riley said the support dwindled away. She alleged she would often receive positive feedback from her colleagues only to later find out they voiced criticisms of her to Kasim.
Riley requested for complaints or requests to be communicated directly to her. She said this request wasn’t met. In the end, Riley said she only felt comfortable limiting communication with her direct report.
As a result, she recalled being told by her direct report she didn’t “communicate” enough.
When asked if they felt they were treated differently when compared with their colleagues, Katie and Riley, both women of colour, noted the presence of racial biases.
“The executive love to preach BIPOC solidarity,” Katie said. “So, when I came in, it’s not like it was very obvious that my white counterparts were treated a lot better than I am.”
For Katie, this changed overtime.
“I could see my [white] assistant managers being treated by my direct report better and communicated with better than how I was treated.”
Katie added it was clear there were “cliques” amongst the AMS executives.
“I think the issue was that because they’re so connected, you feel like an outsider at all times.”
Team RTZ often hosted social events outside of work to encourage team bonding. Katie recalled a time when socials were announced and she dreaded attending.
“I was always kind of fighting that part of myself where it’s like, well, you have to form this connection outside of work—but I don’t, it’s a job.”
Riley felt the same disconnect and exclusion as Katie. She remembered one instance when the AMS senior management hosted an event by the beach and she wasn’t told the location.
Despite being physically involved in some socials, Riley didn’t feel comfortable or included.
Team RTZ responded to these allegations in an email to The Journal.
“We feel the communication and support between the executives and their direct reports, as well as the senior management team at large, is consistent and effective,” RTZ said.
“The executives hold weekly meetings with their direct reports and utilize a template that reviews relevant updates, how the employee is managing their hours, general feedback for the executives, as well as self-care and personnel check-ins.”
RTZ added they recently conducted evaluations of the executives across the senior management team.
“These evaluations were facilitated through our HR office to ensure confidentiality and anonymity so that our staff may provide genuine feedback without fear of retaliation.”
According to RTZ, they received “largely positive feedback” regarding their management, as well as the internal culture and workplace environment at the AMS.
“We’re consistently working to foster a culture of growth, professionalism, diversity, and inclusion in our workplace and value the feedback we continuously collect from our team on how to best support their roles and the overall efforts of the AMS.”
The Journal sat down with a current AMS staff member to discuss the work environment.
“There’s very high expectations with very little support,” Eileen* said. “There’s no clear path or guidelines in order to solve issues.”
Eileen felt Team RTZ could offer more support, clarity, and communication to their employees.
“Especially with regards to answering emails, that’s a big issue […] I’m not qualified to respond to [external] emails, but then the people who are qualified and have relevant information don’t get back in a timely manner,” they said.
According to Eileen, the overall work environment is cliquey. Those with personal relationships with RTZ are often the ones with the most opportunity to connect with them.
“They don’t really make an effort to include you.”
Despite feelings of being an outsider, Eileen said they still enjoy their job.
“I love doing the work I’m doing and the things I do.”
*Names have been changed to for the purpose of anonymity.
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