Nikisha Sanders 2015 Q&A: Powers of the Board

When Elections was ordered to remove Nikisha Sanders from the 2015 Election ballot, the committee was told to erase all information about her candidacy from the website. However, Elections firmly feels that there is no situation in which candidates, whether former or current, should be silenced or erased from Election information. As in all circumstances, Elections’ policy is to only edit and/or post candidate-written information with candidate permission. Therefore, with Sanders’ permission, we have posted the Q&A responses she completed prior to her removal.

Currently, there are no checks on the power of the Board outside the Board itself, since the Board can change the OTW’s bylaws without approval from anyone else. If elected, would you support adding non-Board checks on the Board’s power to the bylaws? If so, what types of checks would you support? If not, why would you not support any checks?

I absolutely would support there being some checks to Board’s powers, as well as a structured way for bylaw changes to take place. At the very least, there should be a public review period for the wording of any changes and a chance for members and personnel to discuss those changes with Board. I also think a combination of Legal and VolCom chairs and/or an outside mediator or mediators could provide some recourse to Board decisions. Board isn’t infallible, nor should they be enabled to make critical changes to committees or resources for those committees without some recourse being provided to those committees.

In accordance with Article VI, Section 1 of the By-laws, the President (and any other Officers) can be appointed at majority will of the Board without being Board members themselves. What are you thoughts on major players and representatives of the Org being chosen without the approval and confidence of the general Org electorate? Do you believe this leaves those roles vulnerable to being filled by unqualified persons? How would you as a Board member work to ensure Officers were qualified for the positions they held?

Having been the first Officer to stand independent of the Board, I think it’s a lousy idea until Board gets a better structure in place to support and work with Officers. Having explicit job descriptions and a means for evaluation (from both sides, Board and Officer) on the job would be a major improvement. Placing those job descriptions up for org-wide review would allow for general awareness of what the position required and cut down on the confusion. It would also allow for a public vetting process that could leave the appointments up to the Board but be more explicit than the current process of “Do you want to do this? Yes? Okay, job is yours,” either by means of an interview or sharing of a resume/CV, or both.

As a side note, it’s a mistake to think the Board itself is chosen with the approval and confidence of the general Org electorate. This is the first election since 2011, and every standing Board member was placed by default, not by any approval process. Even with a contested election, however, there’s no guarantee of Board members being qualified for the position given the size of the voting pool. I’d personally advocate for revising the whole process, from choosing Directors to seating Officers.

The Board approved in August 2015 a change in the OTW bylaws that would allow Board to remove any Board member, with or without reason. Under what, if any, circumstances do you believe this should occur?

I don’t agree with this change. I think, and have thought, that Board should be subject to the Code of Conduct and CCAP like staff and volunteers, and that cause should be given before removal along with the opportunity to correct any problems. The only instances in which I’d waive this is in the event of illegal action, complete dereliction of duty, or doing gross harm to the standing of the organization. As the change in the bylaws is written, it allows for Directors to effectively pick and choose with whom they serve and opens up the possibility of bullying someone out of a position with no valid reason. That’s a dangerous way to operate.