Where’s STUSU?

Alex Solak – The Aquinian

We students are all part of a union.  It’s a pretty big operation.

We (well some of us) elect a group of 19-20 people every year.  Those people are somehow responsible for the hiring of at least a dozen other staff members.  Some of those staff members deal with even more students as helpdesk volunteers, welcome week leaders, election poll workers, etc.  They have a budget of almost $300,000 of our money every year.

So why, this year, do we hear so little about what’s going on with them?

There was an election recently.  ‘We’ voted for 7 of those people that represent will you and I as students at this university.  If you didn’t know it was happening, don’t feel too bad.  Many students had no idea the election was happening until they saw the ballot boxes sprinkled around campus.

Maybe this was a failure of the candidates, they did have time to advertise and campaign.  If they expect to win, you’d think they’d try to get at least more than a few hundred people out to vote. Even people living on campus barely saw any campaigning.

It’d be easy to blame them, but not technically correct.  A quick skim of STUSU’s own hiring policy reveals this:

S.4. The Chief Returning Officer shall be supervised by the Vice President Administration and shall:

(b) in cooperation with the Communications Coordinator, publicise elections;

Publicity would have been great.

I mean, it was ‘publicized’ in the sense that it was posted on STUSU in that little box in the bottom.  And I’m sure it was part of some email that went to my backed-up STU webmail account.

But is that really enough?  When you consider the wide array of communication tools available to us these days, even just the free ones, a few little notes and a piece of paper outside of the Helpdesk that probably took a total of 30 minutes seems kinda weak.

I mean come-on, even a Facebook group might have been a good idea.  STUSU could use that derelict group-page of theirs to do some advertising.  Despite having three Executives as administrators, they haven’t made an event with that group in, literally, over a year.  It’s free, it takes less time than a poster, and as students pass it along to each other it takes all the actual ‘work’ out of advertising.

How many Obama’s have to be elected, or uprisings in Iran have to happen before people start to fully appreciate the power of these social networking tools?  But I digress.

Besides the CRO who is mandated to do the advertising, and the Executive who aren’t using the available tools to do it, there’s another person we pay to do this job.  The task of advertising the union’s election (and, let’s face it, anything else) is also the responsibility of the Communications Coordinator (formally the Director of Communications).

Let’s see what they are supposed to be doing:

S.2. The Communications Coordinator shall be supervised by the President of the Students’ Union and shall:
(a) report to the President on a weekly basis;
(b) maintain and enhance the quality of the Students’ Union website;
(c) publish and circulate the Tommy Times as required;
(d) in coordination with the President, assist with the Students’ Union’s public and member relations;
(e) upon request, draft press releases for the Students’ Union, and ensure their approval by the SEC before release;
(f) ensure that Students’ Union events, activities and initiatives are  publicised within the St. Thomas University community;
(g) accept media inquires and refer them to the appropriate Students Union office;
(h) design and distribute promotional materials as required;
(i) Chair, or designate a Chair of, the Public Relations Committee;
(j) maintain no less than ten (10) office hours per week.

unknown-user-icon
STUSU's Communications Coordinator

So who has our union entrusted with keeping us up to date and promote union activities like elections?

Well it seems like… no one.

STUSU was planning to hire one at the end of last year.  Here is a link to the news item announcing the opening in March.

People applied, interviews were even held, but somewhere along the way things went screwy.  It’s unclear if anyone was immediately hired or not, but by May there still was no Communications Coordinator.

On May 15, VP Admin Corben McLean submitted a memo to council that read in part:

“As we are currently without a Communications Coordinator, I will be handling the SU website and subscription/newsletter tools over the summer.” (Link to minutes where memo is appended)

In fact it wasn’t till Sept. 18 that STUSU started up the hiring process again. The deadline for applications was over a week ago, and now we’re still waiting to hear who will have what is clearly an important position.

For the sake of our student union, and the thousands of students that pay to run it, I hope whoever is eventually selected can help bring STUSU out of this promotional dark age.

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  • Show Comments (2)

  • Denis Y. Boulet

    It would be interesting to get a response to this article by the concerned members of the Student’s Union. Great article, very observant.

  • Mark Henick

    You’re right, advertising sucked. Part of this was because, with the university coming out with a new website eventually, our distributions list was not working properly. We were unable to find a suitable candidate for Communications Coordinator last year, so we will be finishing up interviews today and have one by tomorrow. We have also approved a total rebuild of our website so we can try our best to improve things. I have also been personally going door to door in the residences to update people and ask for questions. I only have HCH and Harrington left to do, which will hopefully be next week. Good commentary though – a perfectly warranted criticism. I’m going to update the Facebook group today!

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