It’s that time of year again: candidates running in this year’s Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) elections will flock to classrooms and social media in an attempt to convince students they have what it takes to be the next executive member of the DSU.
I want to talk about one of the four elected executive members who have a tremendous impact on the student body, the vice president of student life (VPSL).
According to the DSU elections website, the student who holds this position has four responsibilities: organize student spirit activities, promote varsity athletics, chair event committees and oversee Shinerama.
If you spend your days on the same campus I do, there’s no doubt you’ve noticed the lack of ‘Tiger pride’ here at Dal. I would argue that this is a direct result of the current and former VPSL consistently neglecting their responsibility to promote varsity athletics.
Take a quick look at the current VPSL’s 2013 campaign website and you will notice that athletics is one of his main platform items—so it seems he’s off to a good start. He even wanted to focus on creating an engaging athletics culture by improving communication. If that doesn’t make you want to vote for him, the last line of his platform about promoting the cheap beer to entice student to attend games sure will.
Most of you can see where this is going, and can probably guess what the VPSL did to promote varsity athletics after being elected—nothing.
A few months into the fall semester, Shanahan hired an athletics commissionaire. This was a step in the right direction, but it was done without any real interest in promoting athletics, and it seemed to be at the bottom of his priority list.
To polish off the semester, the DSU was going to go all out and promote the last men’s basketball game of the season. This ‘plan’ went up in smoke as the VPSL got the date wrong and missed the game.
Although this year’s VPSL did an abysmal job of promoting varsity athletics—one quarter of the job he’s paid over $30,000 to do—he’s not the only one to blame. The DSU seems to view athletics as a cost incurred by students, rather than something with the power to unite students by building the sense of community and ‘Tigers pride’ we currently lack.
I’m excited to see how the new VPSL and DSU members approach athletics in the upcoming election, and hope that promoting athletics won’t sit at the bottom of their priority list once the elections are over. Dal’s athletes are deserving of wider recognition among the student body, and it is incumbent on the DSU to help facilitate this.
Rebecca Haworth is co-president of the Dalhousie Varsity Council.