DSU don’t want anybody up in it’s business
The Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) will facilitate its own democratic governance review
rather than participate in advocacy group Students Nova Scotia’s (SNS) independent review of
the provinces’ student unions.
“We wanted that kind of flexibility to dictate to the consultant what our own specific
parameters for the review would be,” says Ramz Aziz, DSU president.
The DSU hasn’t officially discussed the governance review, but Aziz says that the talks
will begin in the next few council meetings. The number one priority on Aziz’s whiteboard reads
The DSU and SNS have similar objectives for their respective reports: how to engage
student participation through better representation in council by asking students more about
what they want.
“We’ve been needing somebody to help us with this,” Aziz said.
Less than 11 per cent of the student body voted in the last DSU election — the lowest
voter turnout in at least a decade.
SNS’ democratic governance review was created by members on its board after
concerns at an April 2014 meeting about the autonomy of student unions from their respective
Student unions participating in SNS’ review include the Dal Agricultural Students’
Association, Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association, Acadia Students’ Union, Cape
Breton University Students’ Union and Saint Francis Xavier University Students’ Union.
“Student unions are autonomous and it’s the decision of Dal if they want to participate,”
says Jonathan Williams, executive director of SNS. “I think it’s important that we be able to move forward with initiatives with those student unions that are interested in pursuing them,
without other student unions feeling as though they have to participate as well because
Students Nova Scotia is doing it.”
The DSU had extra money remaining from last year, and Aziz said council decided it
should go toward some sort of consultation. There were talks about using the money for
advocacy consultation, but Aziz said council will probably use it for governance consultation.
The DSU’s governance review will also consist of consultation with students. Aziz cited
things the DSU is already doing to start this, such as a student survey to make
recommendations for the new summer bus pass service.
“We just hope to increase that trust just by the quality of events that we have, and just
the return on value on the membership,” says Aziz.
SNS’ review is implemented by Michael Hughes, a Queen’s University PhD candidate in
political studies. There is also an advisory committee, mainly consisting of former student union
executive members, who will assist Hughes with the review.
“This isn’t a Students Nova Scotia report,” says Williams. “It’s only a Students Nova
Scotia project to the extent that we’re administering the finances and helping coordinate the
student unions that are on the steering committee and on the advisory committee.”
Williams expects SNS’ democratic governance report to be ready in January. He won’t
see the report until it’s finished.
The DSU’s governance report currently has no start or completion date.