I am the law student rep on DSU council, as well as the VP-external of the Law Student’s Society (LSS).
I’d like to start off by saying that, while I voted against the motion to leave both CASA and SNS, neither myself nor law students at large are particularly opinionated about the merits of leaving or staying with these organizations. I understand that firm positions have been carved out among the DSU community regarding membership in these organizations, and this sort of rigid position-taking has not had nearly the same effect in the law school. I mention this because I think it is important to preface my letter by stating at the outset that I am not writing this to uphold any pre-determined position on the issue.
My thoughts are as follows:
Irrespective of the merits of membership in either organization, the decision made last Wednesday was made poorly.
During the presentations by both Students Nova Scotia and the executive members of the DSU who opposed membership, council was made to feel as if they were children of a divorce—both parents were slinging accusations back and forth about who was misrepresenting the truth. The effect of this was that council was forced to make its decision on the basis of emotion rather than reason and fact. We were simply not equipped with the tools to make the decision based on merits, and for that reason I consider the outcome of the meeting on Feb. 26 on this issue to be illegitimate.
The way in which the DSU has allowed this issue to balloon into an all-consuming vortex of thought, idea and expression has depleted the functional resources of council to do its job. Law students have already felt discouraged by the crass inefficiency of council, and the juvenile approach to resolving issues that are of legitimate student concern; this has not helped.
If the core concern of the DSU in leaving SNS and CASA has been to focus more on the actual needs of students, the very process by which this decision was made has been antithetical to that objective. I can think of no other issue less relevant to the health and wellbeing of students on campus. The partisanship expressed through these discussions have done nothing but make a mockery of student representation.
The LSS put forward a motion onFeb. 26 to take control of our elections after the DSU sought to include us into the process last year by taking control of faculty elections. We put forward this motion not only for the practical reasoning of gaining more oversight, but as a statement that law students at Dal feel discouraged by the culture and priorities of the DSU.
In short, if the meeting of Feb. 26 was any indication as to what independent advocacy looks like for the DSU, law students will happily take a raincheck.