Palmeri first to serve three terms as Nursing Science Society President

Student becomes “special exception” to policy dictating a two-term maximum

Nursing Science Society President Alexandra Palmeri
Supplied by Alexandra Palmeri

When Alexandra Palmeri took office for her second term as Nursing Science Society (NSS) President last January, she accepted the fact that she would have to retire in 2017.

However, after a Society Assembly took a surprising twist, a policy was temporarily altered to allow Palmeri — the first student to serve the previously allowed two years as president — to serve a third term. 

In other circumstances, NSS policy dictates that presidents can only serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. However, when a set of unusual circumstances arose, the society declared Palmeri a “special exception” to the rule.

In an interview with The Journal on Wednesday, Palmeri explained that the two-term rule is normally in place for a logical reason. 

All executive NSS positions are to be served for a calendar year beginning in the month of January. This is to allow senior students, who spend their final semester doing their practicum, to complete a full term in office.

Moreover, to be elected for an NSS executive position, the candidate must also have had one year of experience working in the NSS in another capacity.

The two-term rule was created because after gaining one year of experience in the NSS, the typical student could only serve a total of two years in office before leaving on their final practicum.

Palmeri worked in the NSS as a first year intern before running for President in her second year, and she was re-elected in her third year. She entered this year ready to face retirement.

“In the back of my head I always thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could run again?’” Palmeri said. “I mean, I’m here for one more year. Imagine what else we could do!”

Palmeri decided to take a fifth year so she could enroll in a broader variety of courses within Arts and Sciences while still pursuing her nursing degree. She began to reach out to other students earlier this year, who would be eligible to run after she left office.

Upon meeting with them, Palmeri said that the students expressed interest, but favoured Palmeri for the position. “I was overwhelmed by students asking me to seek out the opportunity again,” Palmeri said.

She said she continued to encourage these eligible students, but no candidates decided to run for president. Many, according to her, expressed interest in forming a team with Palmeri.

At an NSS assembly in November, Palmeri and her colleagues held a special session to discuss the possibility of her running again considering the circumstances.

Palmeri personally put forward all the pros and cons of her own re-election for debate, then left the room while the motion to allow her to run for a third term was voted on. The vote came out unanimous for allowing her to re-run. 

“At the end of the day, we want as many students to access opportunities as possible and I would never want to be in a position where I was taking away an opportunity from another student,” Palmeri said. “I wanted to make sure that this was something whereby we exhausted all options.”

In an effort to allow an unbiased selection of the new NSS team, the election process was changed so that instead of Palmeri choosing a team to run with, each candidate ran and was voted in individually.

“The students, at the end of the day, have the ultimate say in who’s going to be running their society,” Palmeri said. In the election, which took place at the end of November, the NSS experienced an unprecedented turnout within their society, with 50 per cent of the nursing population casting votes. 

Palmeri holds that the NSS constitution hasn’t changed, and the two-term rule still stands.

Palmeri will tackle her third term as president alongside Vice President (University Affairs) Cortnie Lortie and Vice President (Operations) Geoffrey Tai. Her goals remain focused on continuing and maintaining the work she and her colleagues have implemented over the past two terms.

“I want to make sure [things are] going to be running smoothly … so that going forward, after this year when I officially retire — for sure — we’ll be able to leave this society in a place where it can continue to grow and thrive.”

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