I’ve been a student for too long. I’ve seen two federal governments, two provincial governments, two deans, two university presidents and too many SU election forums. I could wax poetic about all that I’ve seen and been promised by everyone, but I would rather talk about how CSJ doesn’t need you or your half-hearted promises. The simple fact is this: we’ve been getting it done without you and we will continue to do so.
I just attended my sixth and final election forum at CSJ. My fifth as a student (I lost to a fellow CSJ student for VPSL a few years back) was much of the same. Candidate after candidate came up and tried their best to jam their buzzwordy platforms into our niche reality. Things like better security, better food options, and better support for our events all came up to varying degrees of success this time around. It was word vomit I’ve heard far too many times.
Consider this: CSJ is roughly 750 students. We have about a dozen student clubs who operate and provide programming for students. We have several intramural teams that participate in campus rec and we boast a strong Faculty Association that must fight tooth and nail for any of our interests. When candidates come here and joke about their bad French, how much they love poutine and how great our student culture is, they fundamentally undermine our efforts for political brownie points.
I would be flabbergasted if candidates could name any of the student-run events at CSJ and completely floored to see them come out more than once a year. I would bet both the minibuses that candidates have no idea about the centre collegial de l’Alberta that offers diploma programmes in business and tourism studies. Candidates only care about us because we are seen as a voting bloc. This is relatively true but remember we are only 750 students. Last year 29.5 per cent of students voted, so maybe 225 votes got split between the candidates. It should come as no surprise that candidates won’t focus on us from a numbers standpoint, it is just not worth their while.
To varying degrees, we at CSJ know and accept this. We didn’t need the SU when our university-hired student life coordinator went from bad to worse this year. We didn’t need the SU when our events were threatened because university staff doesn’t understand their own policies. We didn’t need the SU when our funding was threatened, and our student leaders fought the battles the SU didn’t care about. We don’t need the SU to throw great parties or raise awareness about important issues. We sure as hell don’t need them to translate their bylaws into French for a pat on the back and no real results for students.
We do need them to understand that our needs are different. We have great relationships with the community that supports us. We have disagreements with the university, but we are listened to and respected. We are proud of the community we have built — one that is stronger than any one of us and better because of the challenges we’ve faced alone. Don’t get me wrong, the SU helps from time to time, and I am proud to be a member of our union. I will vote in this election and encourage all my classmates to do the same. However, it is high time the SU and its election candidates realize they need us a hell of a lot more than we need them. Stop coming into our building and telling us what you are going to do for us. Instead, just for a second, put your egos aside and ask what you can do with us.
Frankly you could learn a lot more than just French.