The Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) controls almost $20 million worth of students’ money and has its fingers in almost every facet of our experience as students. It is supposed to be a democratic student government, run by and for the students.
At the last Board of Administration (BOA) meeting, I was one of roughly nine non-members of the BOA who were at the meeting. So far, after four General Assemblies (GA), none have met quorum. I can’t help but wonder why turnout for SFUO meetings is so low.
The SFUO has a duty to properly promote and inform students of all its meetings, including BOA and committee meetings, as well as the GA. However, it clearly isn’t doing so, and this is a failing on the part of the executive.
Under the bylaws they have a duty to inform the students of activities that take place concerning the students on campus. Bylaw 18.104.22.168.5 states that “the publicity of regular federation meetings including but not limited to, BOA, standing committees, roundtables, annual general meetings and ad hoc committee meetings” is the president’s duty. Has Roméo Ahimakin, our president, or the executive done that? From what I’ve seen, no they haven’t.
Or how about the upcoming GA on Nov. 12: have we seen one poster promoting it? Despite promises being made by members of the GA committee that there were supposed to be posters up around campus, and a Facebook event page set up to inform students about this upcoming GA meeting.
So why haven’t they done it?
A common refrain from our student politicians is that students are apathetic on this campus, with our 7.87 per cent voter turnout in elections, and our lack of interest in student politics. Those politicians also like to say that promotion is up to individual students, because the exec can’t do it alone.
Instead of complaining about students and evading responsibility, perhaps they should focus that energy on actually doing a better job of promoting the SFUO and its democratic structures. How hard is it to put up some posters, talk to students, create a Facebook event and actually do the job that students expect you to do? Especially when you are getting paid over $30,000 a year to do so.
Perhaps what you didn’t know is that at these meetings there is an open question period where you can ask the BOA anything that you want to ask and make any comments you may have. The next BOA meeting is on Nov. 6. It’s time that students show up to the BOA meetings. It’s time that we ask questions, that we get engaged and that we hold our executive accountable for the decisions they make and the very real consequences those decisions have on students.
—Jordan Kent, political science and Canadian history student at the U of O.