BUSU’s Mid-Term Review

I am writing this article on Thursday, November 1st.  Today is a day like any other; full of meetings, answering questions, trying to answer emails, and wondering when the heck I am going to find time to get the things done that I need to.  It is also a very special day because today marks the 6-month point in my term as President; today is the halfway mark in what has been an informative, challenging, exhilarating, and wonderful period of personal growth.  I thought that it would be fitting for me to take this opportunity to self-assess the job that myself and BUSU as a team has done thus far.

The BUSU council has primarily been together since May.  Most of the commissioners currently on our board ran as a slate, as did the executive.  Some people criticize slates as being anti-democratic, but I believe that they are rather a way for people with similar views to align and help one another out.  While BUSU commissioners had set their own goals, I was not involved in their campaign, so will instead only speak about the campaign goals set by Suz, Raymond, and myself.

As I began looking through our campaign materials, I was surprised by just how many we’d made.  The first I’d looked at was a flyer that was handed out to students that very simply outlined our goals for the year.  The first page promises that we will not break promises, and that we want students to hold us accountable to the promises we’d made throughout the year.  We also claim that we have realistic goals, and I still do believe that they are reasonable.

The first goal we’d set was to be more available to students, so we thought we would have weekly coffee times in SUDS.  This has not happened.  I think that we should at least give it a try, to see how many students actually have an interest in coming down to meet with us.  I don’t think that not realizing this goal means that we aren’t approachable, but it might be a good opportunity for students to talk with us in a less formal setting.  We’d also said that we would work to eliminate the course change fee.  In this goal, we have made some progress.  We were able to have a committee formed through the Board of Governors that will not only address this fee, but other fees charged to students.  At that point, we will be able to look at what other universities do, and ensure that the fees BU charges are fair and in line with those at other institutions.

There was a commitment to sell tickets for clubs and promote their events.  We have sold tickets, and do try to promote.  There was a commitment to attend at least one meeting per month for each student group or club on campus.  While we do attend some meetings, we can’t say that we have met this goal.  While we have not been able to extend library hours in the way that we had wanted to, we have been working on trying to find alternatives for students during exam time, even if that means that people from BUSU stay up all night to take turns “supervising” students in the Elephant Room.  We wanted to work specifically with students in Music, Health Studies, and Education to help make them feel more included.  We have done some good things, such as helping cook pancakes at a breakfast for education students, and giving out free pizza to music students.  There is always more to be done, and we will make an effort to always do more.  We had promised to fight for the BU Aboriginal Student Council, and this is still a work in progress, as noted in other places within The Quill.

Winnipeg Jets hockey nights have no come to fruition, but that problem is beyond BUSU’s control.  Sorry.  We also have goals that have to do with university policy, supporting endeavours made by BU, and making sure students get the most out of the money they pay for things like the Healthy Living Centre.  Some of our goals revolved around making sure that students were more connected with the daily workings of BUSU.  We’d said that we would send out our executive reports to students to keep us more accountable.  This has not occurred.  I have kept a blog that I update weekly that outlines the things that I do on a daily basis, which I hope helps to keep students up-to-date (busupres.wordpress.com).  We wanted to help residence students out, and I am hoping that through my position on the Residence Facilities, Services, and Programming Review Committee that I sit on, we will be able to implement some changes.

Within the pamphlets that we’d made, we had three team goals that are quite broad: representation, transparency, and rebuilding.  Representation involved open decision-making where students could play an active role.  I think that processes such as those at our recent AGM show that we do want students to play a role in the way we do things like allocate money.  We try to reach out through mediums like social media, as well as by talking with students.  We could always do more, but I think we have made a good start.  I also think that we have been fairly transparent with students.  We don’t try to hide the things that we are doing.  Our budget is online, we respond to students even when they might be criticizing the things that we are doing, and we are always available to listen to concerns.  Our last group goal was rebuilding.  This is the goal that I am personally most proud of.  We have found a way, I think, to have relationships with many people within Brandon University while still fighting for what is in the best interests of students.  Instead of stamping our feet, we have engaged in civil discourse.  We express disappointment when people do things that we do not agree with, but equally congratulate people when they are doing things well and going above and beyond what they have to do.

As you can see, BUSU has failed at realizing some of our campaign goals thus far.  We still have another 6 months to go, and I think that in that time period, we can do a lot.  We’ve had a lot of successes this year.  Orientation went well, and we had the most successful Rock the Block ever.  We brought in a dynamic speaker to talk about issues facing Aboriginal people.  We are planning a Mental Health Awareness Week that will happen later this month, and I have no doubt that it will be successful.  I will be blogging this weekend in more detail about our progress and failures, as well as about my individual successes and failures.  I look forward to the next six months, and I hope that students will continue to be involved, give us direction, and give us feedback about what we can be doing better.