This week, Vice-President (External Affairs) Marina Cupido submitted their resignation, effective immediately. Marina’s resignation is related to mental health concerns, and we wish them well going forward. We are going to take a somewhat unusual approach with this statement: it is the last thing we are working on together as a team, and while we could SSMU-ify it by tacking on acronyms and “whereases,” that approach feels too stiff and sterile. We hope you won’t mind indulging us with this not-so-concise statement.
SSMU is a corporation, so we have certain responsibilities to perform when an Executive resigns. For example, we must first inform our Board of Directors of the news. Equally, there is a need for us to communicate promptly with our membership. The resignation of an Executive has a material impact on this organization, and there is a certain standard of care with which we are obliged to handle this. Failing to do so could put our organization in jeopardy.
Yet we are hoping that we can prove capable of communicating with you, our members, in a way that inspires confidence and trust, but without us having to rely on words like “material impact,” “standard of care,” and “jeopardy.”
While we are Executives, we are also friends and coworkers, still processing the fact that the team to which we devoted so much of our time, effort, and selves over the last few months has come to an end. We had developed a collective workplace culture, and much of that culture will soon be changing.
When we were first elected, none of us really knew each other. We came from different backgrounds and spaces on campus. It was not clear how we would work together, and—quite frankly—we were all a little spooked by stories of conflict and fraught interpersonal dynamics among SSMU execs from years prior.
We all came into this space with our own goals and expectations, and it was not clear how or if we would be able to square those. Over time, though, we grew to appreciate the different qualities, skills, and values that each member of this team brought to the table. We aren’t going to paint some idyllic picture: there were, as we assume most people would expect, serious disagreements. Sometimes these differences were a source of tension, and other times they were a source of strength.
We recognize that despite the difficulties and challenges that this resignation brings, it also brings new opportunities. One reason that we all maintained respect for each other despite our many differences and diverging opinions is that, fundamentally, we knew that each of us is devoted to serving our members. While we each have a different understanding of what this service means and should look like, we all do share this overarching goal.
We recognize that this change poses a challenge, but it is not one that we feel will detrimentally impact SSMU in any significant way. To ensure continuity in the External Affairs portfolio, Marina has agreed to draft a report outlining the work they have done so far. We will be coordinating with the portfolio’s student staff to make certain that they are able to continue their valuable work with minimum disruption. We will be presenting our suggestions for next steps to the members of the Legislative Council at the October 18 meeting.
Ultimately, we are still processing this change, and we understand that it may take our members time as well. We will be discussing this at Legislative Council on October 11 and October 18, but we also invite and welcome further conversations beyond those at Council.
Crucially, though, we would like to point out that the University Centre building closure has already made this an exceptionally difficult year for SSMU. Under the leadership of our Vice-President (Student Life) and with the support of the President, we are proving ourselves capable of rising to the challenge. We would suggest this is so because, as a team, we have come to appreciate each other for our strengths, recognize and support each other in our weaknesses, and trust that we are working alongside people who genuinely want the best for our university and for our student union.
We hope that you, our members, can trust that over the course of this year, and regardless of the issues at hand, we will all continue to devote ourselves tirelessly to the betterment of SSMU and the lives of all our members.
Tre Mansdoerfer, President
Jacob Shapiro, Vice-President (University Affairs)
Matthew McLaughlin, Vice-President (Internal Affairs)
Sophia Esterle, Vice-President (Student Life)
Jun Wang, Vice-President (Finance)
Marina Cupido, Former Vice-President (External Affairs)