In 2021, WUSA engaged third-party governance consultants with specific student association experience to identify and address the systemic issues that were causing numerous issues, from student leader burnout and mental health issues to poor engagement and connection with its members, the UW student body. This resulted in the WUSA Governance Review Report, which contained independent analysis of WUSA’s governance and expert recommendations to address them, sourced from interviews and focus groups with current and past students, student leaders, and staff, and the consultants’ expertise.
WUSA’s old model was a mix of various reporting lines to bodies of different powers, experience, and priorities, allowing the shifting of responsibility and blame, as well as general confusion from students, staff, and student leaders on the governance process.
“The role confusion and lack of accountability between the Students’ Council, Board, Executive & AVPs/Commissioners, Staff and student-run services is the direct result of overlap between the appropriate role for each group and the lack of a clearly understood organizational demarcation between where governance ends and management/administration begins.” (p.16)
The new structure more closely aligns to the following model that has clear reporting lines, accountability to a core student body, and a division of responsibilities to ensure effectiveness, expertise, and accountability are all prioritized.
It is important to note that a governance restructuring is a long and rigorous multi-year process, particularly in a member-based not-for-profit like WUSA. WUSA has completed the review stage, as well as developed new bylaws and policies to direct the organization, but getting the whole of the Association transitioned, including hiring and training/re-training staff, developing highly effective student training resources, building efficient procedures to complete work, and identifying and rectifying continuing gaps are all iterative processes that will take time to fully complete.
During this multi-year process, we expect to be continually improving toward our goal of completion, but we recognise that there may be some areas of deficiency that will simply take time to resolve. We will do our best to minimize these impacts on our members, and we will always welcome your feedback and comments to better serve you.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please email WUSA President Rory Norris at firstname.lastname@example.org