Friday, June 24, 2011
Anonymous interview with uoLeaks, towards student union accountability?
UofOWatch contacted uoLeaks in order to obtain this interview that was completed today.
(1) What is uoLeaks? Who is it? When did you start the blog?
uoLeaks is a website designed to bring accountability and transparency to the SFUO by allowing students to anonymously submit tips and comment on events and details that have been posted. The blog was started in February 2011, during the election period.
(2) What motivated you to start a disclosure blog about the SFUO? What were the key catalysts?
The past few years have been riddled with scandals, lawsuits, and a continuing growth of discontent. One of the major catalysts was the fraud and irregularities behind the SFUO elections this past year.
(3) What do you hope to accomplish? Why do this?
Knowledge. We hope that the students at the U of O become aware of what the SFUO is doing and take action. Another goal was to get people talking about the SFUO and news/rumours surrounding it, not just being a source of fact (that's for newspapers to do) but also getting people to think about rumours and to make their own opinions on it.
(4) Why do you insist on being anonymous? Would it not be more effective to be completely transparent and public about your concerns and efforts?
The anonymity allows students that send in tips and comments to have a risk-free way of providing information that may otherwise have them fired or punished.
(5) Regarding anonymity, what is the worst that you could suffer in terms of reprisals?
For some of us - there is no risk of reprisal. For others, their jobs.
(6) What has been your main scoop or disclosure or emphasis to date?
There hasn't necessarily been one main scoop. Instead, there has been many smaller stories. Everything from SFUO's lawyer's documents to irregular financial expenditures to breaches of contract has been disclosed.
(7) How do you gauge your support in the student population and what degree of support do you believe you might enjoy if more students were aware of your efforts and motives?
Overwhelming support was seen in the referendums for the Federated Bodies to leave the SFUO. Three or four student bodies held votes to see if the students wished to be disassociated with the SFUO, and the results ranged from 70-95% in favour of leaving. The support is not necessarily for uoLeaks, but for more accountability within the SFUO; there were also protests and lock-outs at the SFUO office that further showed this.
(8) How do you plan to get the word out that you exist and to create a buzz about your role on campus?
During the election period, we used a set of volunteers not associated with the blog to spread business cards around the crowded areas of campus and in election campaigning areas. To help, we've integrated Facebook and Twitter posts for each time a new post goes up on the blog.
(9) What are some issues or areas you plan to focus on in the coming academic year?
Progress. In what direction is the SFUO going? Has there been improvements or not?
(10) in your opinion, how did the SFUO develop such contempt for transparency and democracy? How does that work? How can you help get it back on track?
There is no one for the SFUO to be accountable to. The "board", which is the only power above them, consists mostly of themselves and (to be frank) their friends. The board directors, elected each year, have no accountability to the students who voted them in. There is no process of appeal, as the Student Arbitration Committee (SAC) has not existed for quite some time.
(11) The university administration loves the SFUO to be petty and ineffective. What role do you consider you have regarding the relationship between the SFUO and the Rock administration?
If we can show overwhelming support and demand for change, neither the SFUO nor administration can ignore that. At a time when the university is seeking increased enrollment, a poor reputation of student experience is the last thing that is needed.
(12) Leaving the SFUO aside for a moment, what would you say are the main problems with the university administration's conduct and outlook?
Although our mandate requests accountability from the SFUO and administration, we have not had much (if any) focus on the university administration to date.