A Union for Whom?

Growing up, I learned that trust and respect are both earned; that those in positions of authority worked to be elected and they possess knowledge from education and experience. In turn, they will take the voices and opinions of those they represent to make decisions on their behalf.

In the two years I’ve been here none of that has occurred with the ASU.

Through my time at Acadia I’ve grown familiar with the ASU and how it functions (or attempts to). From the get-go, I’ve witnessed a dumpster fire that can’t seem to keep its own executives from running in the opposite direction, clinging to whatever is left of their reputation on campus and careful to avoid the lingering fumes emitted from an undemocratic “union” that lacks the input of the very people it’s meant to represent. This has occurred while failing to demonstrate equitable and diverse leadership, furthering the divide from student body and the union itself.

In November, a video was posted on the ASU Council’s Facebook page outlining the proposed changes to promote inclusion, accountability, election window extensions, and ‘other’ proposed changes. When did ‘public’ consultation sessions happen? Who did they ask? Where is the post outreach report? Where are the qualitative and quantitative reports of their findings to be made public? How can a consultation space be considered accessible when there are very few non-executives present and the session is held in a largely unknown, secluded room filled by a council who are all close friends?

If you can’t tell by my pointed tone, I’m pissed. I have people that I didn’t vote for making decisions concerning the structure of my school, my education, my student events, and making bad choices on where my money goes and what I owe at the start of every semester. Let’s look back at what our tuition money has funded, shall we?

  • The UPass issue this year;
  • The Chief Returning Officer resigning last year, following massive backlash concerning ASU operations and electoral processes;
  • Acadia Pregnancy Support operating down the hall from the ASU offices in the SUB pushing pro-life and shaming abortions for four years. Four. Years.
  • The Wellness Fund debacle of last year;
  • Undemocratic bylaw revisions that were only renamed and saw very little change. Not only that, but non-executive positions were canned, and student petition motions were removed.

These are only some of the issues plaguing recent ASU history and I don’t want us to deal with more as a student body. Going to Acadia is getting more and more expensive and we as a student body should not have to take even more when we aren’t even being properly consulted.

Just last week at Independent on Main Street, I watched a student’s debit card decline. With their groceries bagged and people staring, I saw panic and humiliation. As paper towel, butter, and milk were taken off the transaction their card was approved. The student ran out of the store nearly in tears, leaving behind daily necessities and other concerned shoppers who felt deep sympathy for someone just trying to get through their day. Maybe the money that student paid in fees towards a yearbook, or the proposed UPass could have allowed them home essentials.

To ASU President George Philip and the ASU, I’m not going to complain about issues without proposing solutions to said problems. Here are the following:

  • Hold Council meetings in a more public space than the back room of the Michener Lounge. It’s not accessible going into a room full of like-minded friends while carrying concerns for their decisions;
  • Make all findings public from all student engagements, then detail what amendments will be proposed using the data from the engagements;
  • Meet with and invite different student committees and clubs to have their unique concerns and problems heard. This way a broader student voice can be heard;
  • Open further dialogue from students to administration;
  • Allow a “Yes/No” option on ballots for positions being run for unopposed;
  • Audit the actions and events of student associations.

Though there has been some progress in certain areas of concern the ASU lacks accountability and transparency. There are people on council who are kind, hard-working, and warm hearted. I just want leadership from those who truly care and who aren’t in their position just to pad their résumés. I want no bullshit and I want clear and concise decision making that considers those who will be impacted by the result. At the end of the day, the changes imposed by ASU Executives impact what does and doesn’t get left behind at the grocery. If it’s not a union for you and me, whose union is it?

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Generally student politicians are much more affluent than the general student population, which is probably why they are so out of touch on fees and just about everything.

I always have to laugh when someone wearing designer clothes and toting a $1600 Macbook around claims that a new fee for a mandatory bus pass, or renovation of the bar, or a new student union building is “affordable” or “essential” to students. well no… food and paying the rent is essential. A new bar or funding people’s trips to New Minas is a luxury, and all these new fees can actually reduce students’ ability to get the real essentials.

The role of the union as a resume-builder is also a problem. For example, making the necessary accessibility renovations to the SUB sounds much less “sexy” on a resume than tearing it down and building a brand new one, so guess which one is getting pushed the hardest.

What are you basing that assessment on? Got some stats to back that up? I was an executive with the Students’ Union last year, and I owe 40k in student loans. So if you catch me in designer clothes, I either earned the money at my part time job or will be paying it back in monthly instalments for the rest of my life. Sue me (you find much money) for being proud of a position I was elected to, and putting it on my resume, I’m confident anyone would do the same. In fact, anyone could do the same. Run for a position instead of commenting anonymously, you might see things from a more informed perspective.