Loose Cannon: CSA's Sleeping Beauty needs to wake up
Thursday, December 9, 20105 Comments
If Martins' tactless approach to communication is her idea of productive work, she's living in Sleeping Beauty's dream world.
We all have days when we feel like telling off our bosses. In an era of instant communication tools, it can be frighteningly easy to send off a poorly worded email, or let slip something during a teleconferencing session that we would like to take back.
But when your insult is sent not as a casual slip-of-the-tongue, but as official correspondence to every single supervisor in the organization that employs you, well, that takes a bit more explaining.
Case in point is a letter sent by the Denise Martins, External Affairs Commissioner for the Central Student Association, to the CSA's Board of Directors at its November 10th meeting.
The Board passed a motion requesting that Martins and Local Affairs Commissioner Anastasia Zavarella submit their regular reports, which were late, to the Board's Executive Evaluation Committee.
The EEC is tasked with helping commissioners set and meet goals related to their work. The reports, which include an estimate by commissioners of how many hours they've worked, help the committee and students understand how these elected officials are spending their time.
Both Martins and Zavarella submitted the late reports in time for the next meeting. Denise, however, wasn't willing to let the matter rest without taking a shot at her bosses.
She apologized, in a way, by saying the EEC reports weren't at the top of her list of things to do.
“I often did not see it as a priority in the extensive list of tasks I have been accumulating over time... which is probably the reason it was put on the back burner for so long,” Martins explained.
Just to add some spice to her apology, Martins decided to take aim at the EEC's requirement to keep track of her hours, which she claimed was too arduous.
“I will work to meet the new guidelines. However, please understand that keeping track of hours worked is impossible. I would be willing, however, to submit a report of hours slept if it will help the EEC,” she wrote.
(“The implication, Martins later told me, is that she spends more time working on her portfolio than sleeping, as thus “it would be easier to keep track of hours slept than hours worked” - a claim that will be impossible to verify unless she starts actually keeping track of her hours.)
“I can't wait to update you once again of my ongoing via my report!” Martins concluded in her letter.
Most people could expect to be fired for using such a tone with their employers. The Board, being what it is, has taken a more cautious approach and asked the EEC to investigate “positive discipline options” and report back.
This isn't the first time Martins has decided to pick a fight for no apparent reason. For the past three weeks, she has fueled a war of words with the University administration and students over the recruitment of campus support for the Better Planet Project.
In an article to The Ontarion, Martins compared the Project, which aims to raise $200 million for various academic programs and scholarships, to “green-washed charity campaigns” and criticized student leaders for suggesting that students could chip in.
Universities launch capital fundraising campaigns all the time, under various guises. Much of the money raised in the Better Planet Project so far (more than $88 million) is coming from alumni, corporations, the public sector and private donors.
The debate over whether the CSA should contribute is certainly one of some importance. If Martins doesn't want to throw her support behind the Better Planet Project, that's her prerogative.
But her utterly bizarre decision to call out students for how they choose to spend their own time – in a letter to the editor, she suggested those students should “spend a little less time in committee meetings... and a little more time communicating what is going on to students,” - bordered on petty. If this is tactless approach to communication is Martin's idea of productive work, she's living in Sleeping Beauty's dream world.
The Holiday break will provide Martins with ample time to catch up on her rest. Here's hoping that the she wakes up in time for the New Year.
Greg Beneteau is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Loose Cannon publishes every Thursday in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.
The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question.