When VP finance Laura Glover was fired from the organization in September after having only held her position for about four months, other Fine Arts students took notice, and so the FASA reform movement was born.
“It was very much so started by a group of Fine Arts students who are very concerned about what about what’s happened,” Glover said, “specifically because of the principle of just how unconstitutional this whole situation has been handled.”
On the FASA reform website Glover’s involvement in the council and ultimate termination are described. According to their account, Glover remained in Montreal working for FASA over the summer while the rest of the executive pursued other commitments. When co-presidents Neal Moignard and Paisley Sim returned to the city, they allegedly encouraged her to resign on multiple occasions “due to their concern over her course load and commitment to being a Resident Assistant at Grey NunsResidence, a commitment that was made perfectly clear upon Glover`s hiring in April.” After being blocked from accessing the finance email account and left in the dark by the executive, Glover was apparently fired by the co-presidents and Student Life Coordinator Tricia Middleton, in what she felt was extremely unconstitutional procedure.
“It was unconstitutional because terminating an executive must be brought to council and it must be brought to a two thirds majority vote,” Glover said. “Because my position was VP finance, it is totally unconstitutional to terminate any vice president without bringing it to council.”
Current VP Finance Julie Johnston, who was also Glover’s predecessor last year, had a different perception of the events that occured, however.
“Most of the confusion is based around the fact that Laura interprets that her title of VP Finance requires the same termination procedures as an elected executive,” Johnston wrote in an email. “However she was not elected but rather hired as a paid employee by FASA.”
Johnston also said that she felt FASA was justified in their actions since in her understanding, as a hired employee, the executive had the right to terminate Glover if she were not performing her job properly.
“As far as I understand she was fired based on the fact that she has been unavailable to perform urgent tasks required of her for most of the summer, did not respond to emails and was unable to attend several meetings,” Johnston added.
Despite the conflict of opinion, Glover wants to assure students that the reform movement isn’t a battle against the council, but that she just wants the best out of the great organization.
“FASA is an institutional that provides an amazing opportunity for students to get funding and get their art into the community and i think it as an institutional provides endless opportunities for students,” Glover said. “”It just needs to be a constitutional institution.”
While the movement was spawned from Glover’s firing, the goal has since been expanded, according to Michaela Ryan, a studio arts student very involved in FASA reform.
“In researching this issue particularly we’ve sort of started to realize that just the whole set-up of FASA is maybe not ideal,” she said. “We would hope that in the long run once we’ve sort of dealt with this immediate issue we could start to figure out the ways that we could make sure FASA measures up to the other institutions on campus.”
Thus, the mandate of reform has shifted to student involvement from encouraging Fine Arts students to run for councillor positions, to simply increasing the student presence at council meetings.
“Really, we’re just pushing for involvement,” Ryan said. “Se just want to make sure everyone is getting involved and having their voice heard and we want to make sure FASA is run ethically, responsibly, sustainably.” It is through involvement that they believe the improvement will be made, she added.
This point was reinforced by Glover, who really does not want the focus to remain on her situation, but on improving the student institution.
“This movement is really not about me getting my job back or anything like that. We want fine arts students to be fairly represented and there needs to be transparency and consistency,” she said. “Fine Arts students put a lot of trust in the FASA executive so things need to be handled constitutionally.”
As far as Johnston is concerned, the FASA is already in favour of many of the reform’s goals. “I have looked at her website, which encourages students to attend meetings, register for clubs, and participate actively in student government, and I actually agree with this,” she wrote. “FASA has been trying to get Fine Arts students to become more active in student politics for years, so if the FASA reform succeeds in doing this, all the better for FASA.”
FASA’s two co-presidents could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.