SGPS addresses concerns raised about restructuring

Graduate society council discusses recent issues of accountability 

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The Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) council passed a motion on Tuesday to look into the society’s hiring practices after students raised concerns about the council’s restructuring of the society’s commissions.

Graduate students raised concerns last week about a vote by council in October to restructure the society’s commissioner positions.

The restructuring eliminated internal re-hires, added another commissioner position and resulted in the removal of two commissioners following a rehiring process that turned their positions over to new candidates.

The SGPS executive intended to improve efficiency and eliminate a “vaguely nepotistic” system where individuals could hold their positions for long terms, according to an email from SGPS Vice President (Professional) Mark Asfar.

However, outgoing commissioners and coordinators said the decision lacked transparency and was made without any formal consultation with SGPS members.

During Tuesday’s meeting, which addressed those concerns, the SGPS council passed a motion to look into hiring policy and bylaws to improve the society’s human resources practices.

Asfar says he addressed concerns about the restructuring in his oral report to council, although his comments weren’t included in his report to council (he said the report was due to SGPS council before students had raised concerns about transparency).

In an email, Asfar wrote that there was a brief discussion in Tuesday’s council concerning the issue, which was handled in a “very respectful” manner.

 “All in all, a success,” he wrote.

Jhordan Layne, however, who originally contacted The Journal with concerns about the process, said he felt that Asfar’s commentary at the beginning of the meeting was “inflammatory”.

 “[Asfar] chastised our involvement in the publishing of ‘SGPS transparency called into question’ in The Journal,” Layne wrote in an email to The Journal.

Neither Layne nor Ciara Bracken-Roche, who spoke about their concerns in the original article, “found it necessary to respond to the VPP’s comments at the beginning of the meeting”, Layne added.

Layne believes the council meeting itself “went about as well as it could”, as their main aim was passing the motion.

“Our motion was supported by a considerable council majority, its spirit was defended by the Speaker, and the VPP even spoke in support of the motion.”

Bracken-Roche wrote in an email that she was “rather upset initially”, and that many of Asfar’s statements were “one-sided” and “factually incorrect”. However, Bracken-Roche wrote that neither she nor Layne felt it was appropriate to address Asfar’s comments during council.

“[U]ltimately, the motion passed, and our aims for clarity in position responsibilities and hiring processes in the future for Commissioners will (hopefully) be met.”

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