SFSS directors’ votes on motions will no longer be public knowledge

The board’s move reverses February’s decision to start listing opposed and abstaining directors

Chris Ho/ The Peak

By: Zach Siddiqui, Copy Editor

Starting in May, when the SFSS board of directors votes on resolutions at the board table, the votes of individual directors will no longer be public information.

On April 18, the SFSS board of directors passed a motion to “discontinue the practice of listing [ . . . ] board members who vote against or abstain from voting on motions, effective May 1, 2019.” This decision reverses the board’s February motion to publicize the voting breakdown for the sake of transparency with students and student groups.

Jackson Freedman, outgoing vice-president university relations, said at the board meeting that the idea of discontinuing the public breakdown had been discussed previously by the SFSS board’s governance committee.

“We [the board of directors] deal with a lot of controversial issues,” he said while speaking to the board on the proposed motion. “Individuals shouldn’t have to be held personally accountable for their decisions; the board of directors should be held accountable for their decisions.”

Freedman also spoke on the perception of the SFSS as “student government,” which he asserted is not accurate.

“We talk about student politics, we see ourselves as student politicians, but that’s really not what this is. We’re a not-for-profit organization, and this is just not standard practice with any not-for-profit organization that I’ve really ever seen,” he said.

“If you look at other student societies, they don’t do this at all. Actually, some governments even don’t.”

Freedman finished by stressing the importance of protecting board members, who are often young people without past experience working in a high-stakes representative role, from being “targeted” by the student body for their positions.

2019-20 SFSS president Giovanni HoSang called the motion a “slap in the face” to the February motion, which he felt was a positive step toward accountability and transparency at the SFSS.

“I think [the February motion] was something that was very positive in the sense that [it meant students could] know exactly how you vote when you run on certain issues [in your] election campaign,” he said.

HoSang also challenged Freedman’s claim that directors revealing their votes is unprecedented, claiming that “other student unions have livestreams of their meetings.”

“This is the last meeting of this current board; I think this should be a conversation for the next board,” he finished.

Prior to the final vote, Samer Rihani, outgoing vice-president student services and acting president, stated to the board that he was “in the middle” of the two viewpoints.

“There are better ways of accountability than this,” Rihani said, though he also called the February motion a “good start to get something in place.”

He also noted that under the current system, whether or not directors’ votes are public information, any student who attends a board meeting as a guest will watch the vote happen and therefore be able to talk about it.