Thursday, September 8, 2016

Best Wishes to the 2016 UNA Election Candidates

On a university campus September is really the start of the new year, not January.  It’s the same for our local residents’ association, the UNA as well.  This is when the election for the new crop of Directors is held.  Folks have come back from vacations or have returned from their natal homes to pick up their Canadian lives.  It’s a time of beginnings.  Not so for me; at least, not in terms of the UNA at any rate.  I am not running for reelection.

Four years ago I was successfully elected along side of Richard Alexander and Shoahung Wu.  We ran on a pro-democracy ticket and promised to clean out the cobwebs of secret closed door meetings, lack of UBC administrative respect of resident concerns, and well - just make things a better place all round.  Shaohung soon resigned.  Then Richard and I parted ways on our sense of what consisted open democratic and transparent political processes.  I have always been, and plan to continue to be, a person who believes in open participatory democracy.  I don’t believe that the UNA should be operated as a business. I do believe that the UNA should act as an advocate for all sectors of our residential community. [click here for a more detailed review]

Pierre Trudeau once said: "Être votre voisin, c'est comme dormir avec un éléphant; quelque douce et placide que soit la bête, on subit chacun de ses mouvements et de ses grognements." That is "when your neighbour is so powerful its like sleeping with an elephant; no matter how friendly and nice he is, you feel every twitch and grunt." That's what it's like to be a UNA Director in the context of UBC's Administrative rule over our area.  UBC has tried to be friendly and kind. We've seen lots of communication improvements.  But the reality is we're like a mouse in the bed with an elephant and if we don't keep our eyes open we'll get squashed.

After four years of trying to keep one's eyes open but still getting bounced around the proverbial bed I realize that I have to leave this relationship.  It would be one thing if enough of the other mice were willing to help out, but somehow we've parted ways and most of the others have found a way to sleep soundly as the elephant tosses and turns in it's sleep.  The fact that one mouse thinks the others are fooling themselves doesn't really help the situation. So it's time to pack one's bags, move out, and find new adventures elsewhere.

Best wishes to the candidates running for resident director in the year's elections.  I trust that your expectations will match the situation you are entering into.  If you are untroubled by the elephant in the bed then I am sure you will likely not even notice it, or perhaps, you will take some kind of delight in the attention the elephant will shower upon you from time to time.

1 comment:

Charles Menzies said...

My Farewell letter to the UNA Board :)
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Dear Fellow UNA Directors and Staff,

This is the end of my term on the UNA Board. I won’t say it has been a pleasure even as there there have been moments of pleasure through the past four years. I will say it has been an interesting and educational experience; one I’m not sure I would ever wish to replicate. I’ve placed some commentary on my university town news blog. You can read them here: http://universitytown.blogspot.ca/

Richard, despite very different perspectives and outlooks on how democratic organizations should operate, I have appreciated the opportunities that I have had to work with you over these past four years. I wish you the best in your future endeavours.

I have learned much from working with my fellow resident directors. We come from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Perhaps moving forward in the future the idea (that past boards had) of facilitated retreats and more informal social gatherings might be a way to move past the formality of the public meeting so that we can find a way for genuinely and authentically understand each other.

Andrew and Carole I appreciate how at times you have found my opposition to appointed directors a personal critique. I trust that you understand that it is a structural critique and is not a personal evaluation. You have each brought an important perspective to our discussions and I feel enriched in having the opportunity to get to know both of you a bit better through our shared work.

There have been many student appointees over my term and Kathleen I barely had a chance to work with you before I am leaving.

I commend the staff on their efforts to work in situations and contexts that they may well have preferred not to. It is no simple job to manage this thing that the UNA is.

With warm regards and best wishes to all in your future endeavours.

Yours,

Charles Menzies