Former UTMSU president Nour Alideeb has been hired by the UTMSU to be their new executive director, beating out 12 other applicants.
Prior to her new position, Alideeb served as the chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students Ontario (CFS-O) and was the president of the UTMSU during the 2016-2017 academic year. Alideeb was also the chairperson for the Quality Services to Students (QSS) Committee of UTM until November 13, when she officially stepped down and was replaced by Salma Fakhry.
“They are the link between full-time staff and the executives,” said current UTMSU president Atif Abdullah when describing the role of an executive director. “Taking some of the old work and bringing it into the new team is part of the work of the executive director and giving some direction to new executives who sometimes feel overwhelmed in that role.”
The previous executive director, Munib Sajjad, was hired by the UTMSU in 2016 during Alideeb’s presidency. However, Alideeb had said there was a conflict of interest and was replaced in the hiring committee by Walied Khogali, a past UTMSU president and the UTMSU executive director at the time.
The UTMSU Policy Manual defines conflict of interest as “the inability of hiring committee members to reach an impartial decision regarding an applicant due to extenuating personal factors that extend beyond interactions within the association.”
Although the executive director is not an official part of the hiring committee for contractual staff, if a member of the committee is unable to fulfill their duties, they can be replaced by the executive director.
The hiring committee for the executive director consists of the president, the VP internal, VP equity, and two members of the Board of Directors.
Atif Abdullah stated that “all the members of the hiring committee were actually present,” therefore not requiring Sajjad to step in.
The Medium asked Abdullah if Sajjad was a part of the hiring process that selected Alideeb.
“He was not present at any of the interviews, he didn’t have access to any of the job postings. The job postings were put up by us [the hiring committee]. Applications were reviewed by us,” said Abdullah. “The final decision was within the hiring committee, and then approved by the board as well.”
The executive director job posting was posted on CharityVillage, a website which features non-profit job listings, and “had over 15,000 views.”
“We had about 13 applicants of which four were interviewed. Of the four then it was down to Nour,” said Abdullah. “Of course, you don’t want someone coming in working from BMO financial management to working with the Student Union because those priorities just don’t align but recognizing that experience within the university background is also very important.”
When asked about the UTMSU’s preference in hiring past UTMSU and UTSU presidents as executive directors, Abdullah stated that it is important for the executive director to understand U of T governance which “probably is by far the most complicated in this country.”
“With Nour coming in, she brought that experience of not just knowing what that system was and not just having that relationship that you need to have with the administration to push your work through, but also with a proven track record,” said Abdullah.
“Nour is also the first female executive director of this organization, so it’s always good to have a fresh perspective,” continued Abdullah. “She has a proven track record of three policies being passed while she was an executive of the UTMSU, so she brings in a lot of that direction, in the policy writing and the policy advocacy part of it as well.”
Abdullah stated that the priorities of the UTMSU haven’t “shifted too much” with Alideeb becoming the executive director.
The UTMSU is currently focusing on subscription-based services like Top Hat which “has always been identified as a barrier for students,” and has had “a very good string of meetings with the dean of Academic Affairs, Amrita Daniere.”