UMSU hires new services coordinator

Community groups cautiously optimistic, and concerned

Mubo Christine Ilelaboye takes a seat as the new UMSU Community Groups Coordinator.

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) has hired Mubo Ilelaboye as the new full-time coordinator for community groups.

At the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year, UMSU introduced structural changes to the functioning of community groups that include hiring one full-time coordinator to work with its four community groups, replacing the four part-time coordinator positions which had previously worked with each individual group.

The Manitoban reached out to Llelaboye for comment, however she insisted the queries be forwarded to UMSU president Tanjit Nagra. Nagra said she is very excited to have Llelaboye onboard.

“She comes from a not-for-profit background as well. So I am very excited to have her as a part of the UMSU team,” Nagra said.

The four community groups under UMSU are the Womyn’s Centre, the University of Manitoba Aboriginal Students Association (UMASA), Rainbow Pride Mosaic (RPM), and the Student Accessibility Centre.

Amanda Fredlund, UMASA co-president, maintains that there are upsides and downsides to any situation. UMASA is viewing the amalgamation of the part-time positions into one full-time position in “a few different ways.”

“The upside is that we do have a full-time coordinator dedicated to helping us now along with the other three groups, where in the past it has just been a part time” coordinator, along with a “larger budget now as a smaller portion of it is going to the new coordinator,” she said.

Fredlund also said she believes it is unfair that one person is now in charge of multiple groups.

“The downside is that one person is now responsible for more organizations, so she’s kind of spread thin,” she said.

“Our big worry is that we might not be represented,” Fredlund added, but called the arrangement an opportunity for allyship.

“Having allies at all levels, especially with UMSU, is definitely a benefit for us,” she said. “I think that our concern as we go forward is to see if the new coordinator has an understanding of our student group, as well as the others. Our past coordinators have been Indigenous.”

“We are hopeful that this will be an opportunity to educate and learn as well as support each other,” she added.

Nagra acknowledged it would be difficult for the union to hire someone who identified as a member of all four communities represented by its groups, but it was crucial to find a candidate with an open mind.

“The biggest thing I think the [hiring committee was] looking for, obviously, is an understanding that it is very difficult to have someone who can check off all those boxes or identify within all the communities but we were looking for someone that was ready to listen and ready to work, essentially,” Nagra said.

Sarah White, LGBTTQ* representative for UMSU mentioned that the changes to the coordinator position were surprising but said she is looking forward to working with the new coordinator.

“We have already spoken a few times and I firmly believe that we will be able to continue the tradition of community outreach and support that RPM was founded on,” White said.

The Womyn’s Centre Collective issued a release saying it believes the position should be filled by someone who identifies with the respective communities, otherwise it will “compromise the needs, values, and mandate” of all the community group spaces that the coordinator oversees.

“Condensing each paid coordinator position into the new and single community groups coordinator position is a very harmful and problematic approach,” reads the release.

According to the collective, the annual budget of the Womyn’s Centre is $26,000, with $12,000 dedicated to the coordinator’s wages. The release said the collective is skeptical of how UMSU will “employ” the resources under the new structure.

Representatives from the Student Accessibility Centre declined to comment on the story.