Kelsi Evans
Kelsi Evans
November 13, 2020

Open Letter to the Brunswickan: My experience with the UNBSU

Former Vice-President Advocacy Kelsi Evans shares her experience working with the UNBSU.

I was a part of the UNBSU for roughly a year and a half. Within my first year as one of the inclusion councilors, I was always extremely proud to sit on the UNBSU and had shared the values they promoted. My first year, I had never witnessed such an inclusive and welcoming group. Everybody’s thoughts and opinions were always recognized, and I really felt a sense of belonging. I was never scared to share my opinions even if they differed from a fellow council member because everybody was always open to dialogue. I was truly grateful for the UNBSU executive team of 2019/2020 for truly carrying the respected legacy of such an inclusive and welcoming environment.

When I was elected as Vice President Advocacy, I was beyond excited to finally dedicate my time and effort into advocating for students. The people I worked with at UNB were so amazing and treated me with so much dignity and respect. I built great relationships with the people at the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, New Brunswick Student Alliance, and the people who work at UNB. I can honestly say I enjoyed every second working with these groups of people. 

Unfortunately, I did not have the same experience while working with the UNBSU Executive team. Every day I felt disrespected and disregarded by the Executive team. I made the team very aware of my feelings and that their actions were causing me to feel this way. I had a couple of meetings with the UNBSU President to discuss it directly. It was a daily struggle to try and build back up the inclusive environment that used to be the legacy of UNBSU. After fighting this battle every day to work with people who have little respect for advocacy and myself, I decided enough was enough.

After months of enduring some of the Executives’ behaviour to undermine my feelings towards my self-worth and the endless amount of effort I put into my job, I decided for my own well-being to resign. I cannot go into details of the events that took place due to the emotional trauma I still carry from this. Nobody should be in a workplace where their emotional well-being is overlooked and people are allowed to treat one another poorly while others turn a blind eye.

I was not asked for input or recommendations on the interim Vice President Advocacy; however, I had hoped that Melissa Ghanem, who was the UNBSU Wellness Coordinator before being the interim Vice President Advocacy, would be considered as my successor. I have nothing but absolute respect for Melissa. We worked extremely well together. Melissa and I worked hand in hand, and with the few months I had under me, I taught her everything I knew about how to advocate for students. Not only is Melissa extremely motivated, she is so passionate about advocacy. She took real interest in the work I was doing and all of my projects. I made it a habit to let her know everything I was working on because she always had such amazing input. We had a very heartfelt goodbye as I put in my resignation for Vice President Advocacy. I was happy to let Melissa know that she was one of the reasons I stayed for as long as I did. Melissa was extremely compassionate towards me and supported me all the way to the end.

The behaviour I endured had a huge impact on the person I am today, as friends and family have stated that I am no longer the same. I hope that my story helps anybody suffering in a toxic environment to speak up and find the courage to remove yourself from a terrible situation when you are being harassed and bullied. 

Remember, sometimes you have to take a step back to move forward in the right direction.

Sincerely,

Kelsi Evans

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