OPINION: DSU execs dropped the ball

Will these bleachers be filled the next time around? (Photo by Kit Moran)

Will these bleachers be filled the next time around? (Photo by Kit Moran)

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.


  1. Technostructural on March 7, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    While I agree that much more could have been done on the varsity side of the VPSL portfolio, I think that Danny and the work that he has done this year has been the only positive thing to become of the absolute embarrassment that the DSU has become.

    While that doesn’t say much, I think that if any of the current (and/or future) executive members would be capable and willing to make varsity sport more of a priority it would be Danny.

    This is not an endorsement of his campaign (as much as it may sound like it), but more of a pleading to not oust the one person on the executive that has his head on straight.

  2. Jess Brown on March 9, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Could he have done a better job? Yes. Is he a total disaster like the rest of the potential returnees? Definitely not.

    Having his head on straight is something to recommend his return: at least he stands a chance of learning from his own mistakes. The rest of them seem to be downright proud of their dirty work re: CASA/SNS.

  3. Rebecca Haworth on March 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t think that Danny was a total disaster, or that he wouldn’t be a good candidate to win the VPSL election again this year. Danny certainly accomplished many positive things as VPSL, however athletics was not among them.

    My main point is the trend of VPSLs ignoring their mandate of promoting varsity athletics. I never singled out Danny by name because he was not the first VPSL to do so, and given the current DSU climate, I can hardly see him being the last. However, if he runs again, I would expect him to use his experience to improve on his work from this year, and hopefully become a positive ally for athletics.

  4. […] friend of mine was also recently accused of slander. She wrote an opinion article in our campus newspaper, criticizing the current VP Student Life, who was running for re-election, […]

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