Free food, City Council candidates, and departmental association meetings will be part of the Students’ Union GovWeek as the “festival of governance” returns to campus this week.
The week-long event, scheduled for September 18-22, aims to raise awareness about student and university governance through scheduled sessions and events. This year’s GovWeek is overseen by Students’ Union vice-president (academic) Shane Scott.
“I think that the whole point of GovWeek is to show students what governance is and what it can do for students,” Scott said. “Not a lot of people understand what governance is on campus, and everything a student does really is influenced by governance in some way.”
Each day of this year’s GovWeek will have events centred around a different theme of governance: Introduction to Governance, Capacity Building in Governance, Citizenship in Governance, Student Groups in Governance, and Diversity in Governance. This year’s keynote speakers are SU president Marina Banister, who started GovWeek last year, and Minister of the Status of Women and Minister of Service Alberta Stephanie McLean. Other events include meetings with department and faculty associations, a “How to Win an Election” session, and a meet-and-greet with Edmonton City Council candidates.
“One of the biggest critiques of GovWeek last year was just the sheer number of sessions,” Scott said. “We kept within our aim of having 20 to 30, just so that there’s not as many events that are overlapping, so students who do want to attend multiple events are able to, they don’t have to necessarily pick and choose.”
The first GovWeek, held last fall, hosted a total of 61 events and sessions. This year there are 27 planned events. For students with no interest in governance, some events may still hold “broad” appeal, Scott said. Students can register in advance for the Annual General Eating, a complimentary tasting of food from SU restaurants like Room at the Top and L’Express. A full schedule and more information can be found on the UASU GovWeek Facebook page and govweek.ca.
“There are some events in GovWeek that are a bit more broad, that can kind of group more people in who don’t necessarily want to get hands-on involved in governance but are just curious about it,” Scott said.
Scott is hoping the smaller schedule this year will encourage student attendance. Last year a total of 2,057 people attended the five-day governance event. GovWeek came in under its $5,000.00 budget by $1075.22. The budget this year is $4,000, although Scott said he hopes to stay “well under” that amount. And with fewer events this year, he’s aiming to have more people attend each event.
“A lot of the groundwork was already laid because this is the second year that we’re doing GovWeek,” Scott said. “We’re following along with a lot of the similar marketing. A lot of the work was just trying to get the different stakeholders involved.”