The other day I was wandering about the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) offices, being the current Deputy Returning Officer for the current ongoing DSU elections, when I noticed something that put a chill into my 28-year-old bones.
If I ever felt welcome in the DSU before, I don’t now.
Two years ago, before I took an extended hiatus, I knew what the DSU did and I knew who the DSU execs were. I was friends with most of them. I sat on council as member-at-large. Our meetings would go until necessary, which occasionally meant until midnight or later. I had no problem using my verbal wit to address my executive members if I was defending what I believed to be important, what I believed to be right.
Walking through the DSU offices now, I suddenly feel disjointed and disconnected. I feel like a mouse running through a maze full of white flowers, ready to be painted red at a moment’s order.
Sure enough, the DSU exec makes me feel welcome now that I’ve been hovering around the office, being the DRO for the elections. Yet every once and a while, wandering through that office makes me feel uncomfortable.
I do recognize that being away for two years does change many things when it comes to the DSU and its executive body – but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I feel like I have no idea what it is the DSU does anymore, or why. The other day, someone brought the agenda minutes to me for that week’s meeting. In it was a motion to accept Palestinian Human Rights Abuses as imposed by Israel. My jaw dropped.
This has no place as being a motion on the DSU to begin with. This is a highly politicized topic, and it only moves to alienate students from one side or another. So why was it there to begin with? When I couldn’t make it to the meeting as I was sick and trying to play catch up to my studies, I asked my friend what became of the motion. He told me nothing, because, it was tabled. Naturally.
I’m about to graduate, so this feeling of being disconnected and disjointed is about to disappear as I step out into the world. But that isn’t the case for a whole heap of students.
Now, I know that voter apathy in students is prevalent and rampant. While I might be preaching to a choir, I’m still going to preach it: go vote. Go vote for your voice to be heard. Go vote for people who you think are going to represent you and your needs.
If you believe that means an executive that needs to have a voice about conflicts in the Middle East, then do it. This is your union. This is your voice.
I understand that being that returning student gives me a unique perspective. I see the voter apathy. I see the need for students to vote. It’s why I’m now the sitting DRO. I want to see everyone vote, because I believe you all have something to say.
When I was first going off to university, a wee babe of 21, my cousin turned to me and said, “Find out who your student union representatives are. If you need any help, someone fighting for your cause, that’s who you go to.”
Damn if he wasn’t right. The DSU is your fighting voice – so use it. Elect people who you want to see represent you as a student.
Your time at university can be short, or it can be long, but you may find one day that you need help. That help will be your DSU, so vote to elect those individuals who you believe represent you and your needs.
You can find the platform for every candidate at dsu.ca/elections, and while unfortunately we didn’t plan for Mother Nature (hopefully next year’s committee will have a contingency plan in case Mother Nature takes a dump on the DSU elections campaign period again), you can still approach all your candidates to ask them questions. They all want to hear from you. They all want to know what you want your next DSU to be.
So do yourself a favour. Go get informed, so you can go vote from March 21st to 24th.