State of the Unions | Education | Halifax, Nova Scotia | THE COAST

State of the Unions

Get caught up on your student union’s latest successes, challenges and elected officials with this quick jog back through the past few semesters in student government.

Dalhousie Student Union
6136 University Avenue,

This past academic year was a hectic one for the Dalhousie Student Union. The DSU unanimously passed a motion calling for the board of governors to end investments in fossil fuels; it requested policy change so students can use a preferred name rather than a legal name on school documents—a welcome change for trans students and gender-nonconformist students; it proposed a week-long study break in November; it resolved to terminate their membership in the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations and Students Nova Scotia in favour of independent advocacy. But the DSU didn't just initiate critical change—it also courted controversy. The council voted not to recall Sagar Jha's presidency two months after he dropped his only class on February 2. The trouble was that Jha's continued presidency undermined the DSU's constitution which states that the DSU president must be a student. The current president, neuroscience student Ramz Aziz, faces a year jam-packed with more critical issues (and hopefully less controversy). The Memorandum of Understanding between the province and the universities will be renegotiated this year. Lindsay Dowling, communications and policy manager, says, "the DSU will be advocating for lower tuition, tuition freezes, reduction and elimination of differential fees for international students and improved retention mechanisms for tenure track professors."

King's Students' Union
6350 Coburg Road,

The King's Student Union is the Mighty Mouse of student government—small but strong. An active member of the Canadian Federation of Students, the union offers a number of nifty services including: free condoms, a weekly newsletter named TWAK, a campus cafe called the Galley, an infamous campus bar (AKA the Wardroom) and enough student societies to distract you entirely from Darwin and Descartes. Michaela Sam, the current KSU president, has a gimungous pair of boots to fill. Last year's president, Anna Dubinski, was a lipstick-wearing machine. The sassy politico promoted liberal arts degrees, called for increased education funding and spoke out against library budget cuts at Dalhousie. Dubinski let her feminist flag fly when she co-planned and co-hosted Consent Week and The Rape and Rape Culture on Campus panel. How can you be sure this year's KSU will do good work? Get involved! The KSU currently has three vacant positions: member at large, journalism representative and first-year representative. To add your muscle to this small-but-mighty council contact the KSU: [email protected].

Mount Saint Vincent University Students' Union
Rosaria Student Centre, 166 Bedford Highway,

The Mount Saint Vincent University Students' Union provides handy services. The MSVUSU operates the Crows Nest which is a 24-hour computer lounge on campus and also the Fountain Play Centre, which provides subsidized child care services for as little as $3 an hour. The union operates Vinnie's Pub and Lounge, the beloved campus watering hole. In April, the MSVUSU signed a proclamation and commitment to become the first compassionate organization in Atlantic Canada and the first compassionate student union in the world. But what doesn't seem very compassionate is that for the second consecutive year the MSVUSU executive is entirely composed of male officials. In a university where enrollment is 75 percent female, having a few representatives of the womanly persuasion would seem logical. Conveniently, one executive position and eight council positions are currently vacant. If you're a Mountster and you want to contribute to your student community then grab a nomination package at the Rosaria building starting September 3.

Saint Mary's University Students' Association
5th Floor Student Centre, 923 Robie Street,

Saint Mary's University Students' Association experienced bumps and bruises this past academic year. SMUSA came under intense scrutiny last September after a video clip of a frosh-week faux pas was posted on Instagram and subsequently picked up by local and national media. The video clip exposed a traditional frosh week chant that emphatically promoted non-consensual sex with underage girls. The clip featured frosh leaders chanting, "Y is for your sister, O is for oh-so-tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G is for grab that ass." As a result of the controversy, Jared Perry resigned his positions as president of SMUSA and president of Students Nova Scotia. The controversy occasioned an internal review and Perry's resignation necessitated a SMUSA by-election. Gorba Bhandari was elected president for the remainder of the term and due to unusual circumstances he still occupies that position. Last April SMUSA's president-elect, Yannick Manga, submitted his resignation before he took office. The SMUSA Board of Directors decided to allow Bhandari to continue as president until a by-election could be held this fall. With only 20 percent voter turnout during the last election, more SMUdent involvement in the by-election process could make a big difference. It's simple: meet the candidates, listen to their platforms and go to the polls on voting day. For more information on the upcoming by-election call 496-8700.

Nova Scotia Community College
Waterfront Student Association
80 Mawiomi Place, Dartmouth,

The NSCC Waterfront Student Association executive has two vacant positions for the upcoming academic year. This SA is looking for hardworking students for VP Services and VP Communications—nominations for these positions open on September 2 and close on September 15. "You don't have to know anything about politics to be part of your Student Association," says the website. "You just have to want to be involved and have an interest in serving others." Christopher Connors knows what it's like to get involved—he's the SA president and a member of the NSCC board of governors. Connors has a diploma in digital filmmaking, founded a small business called Darkness Films, is studying business administration at NSCC and taking summer classes at SMU in order to fast track his commerce degree. Oh yeah, and in 2010 Connors managed to eat his way into something called the Norm Burger Hall of Fame at a certain Boston bar, "where everybody knows your name." If you want to know how you can get involved, win an executive position or eat burgers named after fictional characters from '80s sitcoms, contact the BMOC at: [email protected]

Student Union of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University
Room D-250, 5163 Duke Street,

The Student Union of NSCAD University arranges student exhibitions, administers emergency student funding and stocks a student food bank in an effort to maintain a high quality of student life. Throughout this past year those efforts have been hugely overshadowed by the financial challenges plaguing the university. SUNSCAD fought the closure of SEEDS Gallery by the board of governors, combated affiliation with other Halifax universities and advocated for increased funding from the provincial government. SUNSCAD president Caleb Hung has been vocal about the financial issues affecting NSCAD since he was elected last March. Hung has been quoted saying, "all of NSCAD must stand united in calling for a restoration of core government funding to our university." Presented to the provincial government in July on behalf of the university, the NSCAD Sustainability Plan is sure to be a hot topic this academic year as Hung has already called the plan "entirely unrealistic." The plan recommends creating more rental space in the Granville campus, voluntary early retirement incentive plans for faculty, tuition and fee increases and enrollment increases.

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