Beach patrol puppies, lifeguard cats

Impawsibly pretty kitties and pups coming together to keep mew safe in the sun

I saw a fantastic video the other day of some dogs on a beach with their cat buddy …  and the cat was swimming with them! How great is that? I know we’re on the verge of exams, and no one wants to deal with the stress of thinking about politics, so I’m going to write about something lighthearted this week.

…I just.
Stop myself.
Let’s talk about the DSU.

Our union has been on something of a media push this past week, trying to get out the message that students deserve a place at the decision table when the provincial government and university administrations work out a new memorandum of understanding.

Brilliant. Marvelous. I’m on board.

(I mean, I guess I’m a little confused as to why our student leaders are surprised that we aren’t at the negotiation table, given that they spent all of Winter Semester last year trying to dismantle our provincial lobbying organization. I guess nothing says student solidarity like trying to take a wrecking ball to the organization we built to represent a unified Nova Scotian student voice.)

This is a hugely important issue. We all have a lot at stake here, and as a debt-crushed student in one of Dal’s ridiculously expensive professional programs, no one knows this better than me. I’ve been paying close attention to our union’s efforts, and the DSU’s talking points are pretty compelling.

In an interview with the Chronicle Herald, Jacqueline Skiptunis, the DSU’s Vice President (Academic and External), rightly declared that the government’s consultation process lacks transparency, because the notes used to form the final report based on the consultations will never be made public.

(By the way, whatever happened to last year’s Strengthening Advocacy report? You know, the one that purported to summarize the consultations the DSU had with students last year? The one upon which we based our momentous decision to leave CASA, and our attempt to leave SNS? I haven’t been able to find it on the DSU website yet.)

Skiptunis further criticized the carefully scripted way in which the consultation questions were structured and asked, claiming that they were clearly designed to “solicit a certain type of response”.

(As everyone knows, carefully scripted consultations designed to achieve a certain result should only ever be used when working with trained actors at poorly-attended DSU general meetings.)

All of this inspiring talk about transparency, accountability, and broader consultation – it’s exciting to hear it coming from our student leaders. I had thought that such concepts were out of fashion here on campus, but their sudden popularity fills me with hope.

Might the DSU try to lead by example? Might our leaders import a few of these qualities into our own union?

For the moment, forget figuring out the complexities of better consultation – imagine if we simply put a little extra effort into making the organization more transparent to the average student.

Take the DSU’s Internet presence alone. What if students could go to the website looking for their representatives, and the list of councilors wasn’t months out of date? Or if we made sure that all union job openings were advertised more than a day or two before the application period closed? Or if we let students know about enormous changes to the DSU constitution immediately, rather than ALLOWING FOUR DAYS AND A BUNCH OF SNARKY JOKES TO PASS BEFORE DECIDING THAT CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES MIGHT BE AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF NEWS TO PASS ON? I MEAN, IT’S NOT LIKE YOU NEEDED TO CHISEL IT ONTO A STONE TABLET OR ANYTHING. IT DOESN’T TAKE FOUR DAYS TO COMPOSE A TWEET.



Deep breaths. Calming thoughts.

That’s it. I am but one man. I may be addicted to DSU drama, but my body can handle only so much snark before it cracks. Caps lock is never a sign of good mental health. The system has won this round – I’m through with DSU politics for the rest of 2014. It’s nothing but beach patrol puppies and lifeguard cats from here on out. I hope you all have a purrfect holiday break.

Ed. note: the list of councillors on is recent as of Nov. 18, 2015. The list was updated shortly after Issue 147-11 of the Gazette, mentioning the list was outdated, was published last week.

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John Hillman

John Hillman is the Gazette's Opinions Editor. John is a second-year law student, but he has been at Dalhousie for much longer than that. Recently discovered cave paintings indicate he was first observed lurching around campus by Halifax’s original human settlers some time during the late Pleistocene epoch. He started writing for the Gazette back when you were in elementary school, but he unexpectedly went off the grid a half-decade ago to concentrate on helping found, a DSU-focused political blog. Where exactly was he hiding between the years 2009-2013? Certain individuals would prefer he not comment. Why has he returned? Not because of a top-secret Illuminati indoctrination project known only as the Omega Initiative, that’s for sure.

You can email John at

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