You voted for a new student union — now show you meant it
If there’s one thing that stood out to us the most from the University of Ottawa Students’ Union’s (UOSU) Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 15, it was how empty it was.
While the growing BOD (with gaps to hopefully be closed in the upcoming byelection in October or November) nearly filled the roundtable of the Senate Chamber, the gallery of the spacious room in Tabaret Hall sat nearly vacant. A member of our team, two journalists from La Rotonde, and just one student observed the meeting.
That’s not to say students didn’t tune into UOSU’s Facebook livestream of the meeting. Some did, but the numbers are downright depressing. The first portion of the stream garnered just 141 views at the time of writing. The second? 50. The third? 93.
Even at the viewership of the meeting’s strongest point of 142 viewers (we can’t leave our good student who was physically in the audience out), just 0.39 per cent of the U of O’s undergraduate student population was actually paying attention.
Not only is the lack of involvement lazy, but it’s also dangerous. While deceitful elected officials are the people who bring corruption into unions, student apathy and lack of attention is what allows that poison to fester and grow, rotting life on campus from the inside out.
U of O students, we don’t want to baby you, but we can’t deny that you’re acting childish.
Most of you were around last year and know exactly what kind of special hell this campus went through to reach a new student union. After years of dealing with a union plagued by allegations of financial mismanagement, irresponsible spending, harassment, and bullying, you voted overwhelmingly in favour of leaving the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa behind and rebuilding a new one, the UOSU, instead.
But now that the dust of the transition from the SFUO to the UOSU has mostly settled, where did the enthusiasm of that historic push for a new chapter go? Where has the necessary oversight and political involvement of the student body gone?
To be fair, the UOSU does appear to have more safeguards and a better democratic system in place to support good governance, including giving the highest voting power to the General Assembly of students (save hiring and firing), but that doesn’t mean things can’t go wrong.
Knock on wood, but we for one are not ready to go through the trials and tribulations of a transition to a third student union. The fact that the UOSU’s services on campus won’t open until next month and the businesses not until sometime next yearspeaks to the strain that can put on campus life.
All we’re saying is we better see a growing audience at next month’s BOD meeting to be held on Oct. 20, location still to be announced. If we don’t see that change, we’re fully willing and able to continue putting out this editorial every month until we do.
Attending BOD meetings is a pain-free and crucial way to keep tabs on what the union is getting up to behind closed doors. Doing so means you’ll be the first to sound the alarm if the union’s business starts to smell fishy, giving the student body the time and space to mobilize for change if change is what’s needed.
Our job is to cover all things UOSU, with the highest goal of holding the union accountable and keeping their power in check. Your job is to turn those words into action.
Editorials are written by the Fulcrum’s six-person editorial board and express the opinion of the board.