After more than three years with the Student Union Society, Shane Potter is leaving his position as services director for another job, which will take him out of the province. (Potter declined to be interviewed for this article.)
Potter leaves behind a campus changed in two significant ways as a result of his term as president, from 2012-14: he piloted the idea of a campus shuttle connector during his campaign for president, and also realized the long-stagnant, expensive project of a Student Union Building, following negotiations with UFV administration and a revised, more realistic timeline for completion.
Potter was first opposed to aspects of the SUB project. In 2011, he led a “No” campaign against a referendum that would open a $10 million loan to ensure financing on the SUB ahead of its construction. “I just don’t understand it … You should spend the money we already have and build something simple, not this extravagant project,” he said, at the time a student representative for Senate. In a follow-up op-ed in The Cascade, Potter appealed to the student body. “This isn’t like the little high school political club or yearbook group at grade school or something; these guys are spending your money,” he wrote, before closing with a cynical realization: getting students to vote in SUS elections is often a losing battle. “Ninety-five per cent of you just don’t care and don’t vote.”
The mortgage passed, but when SUS president Carlos Vidal stepped down 10 months later to take a job in Hong Kong, Potter took on the post in an interim position, leaving him with a funded building almost a decade in waiting. At the time of its first proposal in 2007, approved in a student referendum, the SUS claimed “building on the Abbotsford campus is intended to be finished in two-four years.”
The SUB, though it failed to meet Potter’s original goal of Fall 2014, opened at the beginning of this academic year’s fall semester.
The Abbotsford-Chilliwack connector, meanwhile, has seen two expansions, one to meet to demand, and another to add service to Langley, as well as service during the summer.
During his term as president, Potter also completely re-structured the SUS’s management. “The Student Union Society (SUS) has become stagnant; we have not grown with the university,” he wrote, introducing his ideas in The Cascade two years ago.
After his term completed, Potter was hired as services director, a newly created position that put him in charge of some of the services he introduced, a decision that was met with controversy. Current president Thomas Davies says the hiring process has now begun with Potter’s departure; as of press time there has yet to be an updated job posting on the SUS website.
Before his time as president, Potter was also a semi-regular contributor to these pages, writing short opinion pieces on topics as wide-ranging as placebo-effect bracelets and a semi-serious primer on roundabouts. “Perception is not something that comes with your car, but something you’ve had the power to do all along, like Dorothy’s ability to return to Kansas,” he wrote.
The decision to make Potter president in the first place almost never happened: after Vidal’s surprise resignation, Potter was voted in on a second-attempt blind-vote, the first attempt ending in a tie. “I know we don’t always agree on everything, but I respect all of your opinions and I’m thankful for the things we’ve been able to accomplish together,” he said at the time.