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A question for the DSU executives

On Wednesday the Dalhousie Student Union made some huge decisions without advertising in advance they were making them. They’re now going to ask the university to have every student at Dalhousie take a mandatory equity class, and Vice President (Academic and External) Jacqueline Skiptunis is working on a DSU Equity Policy.

We didn’t need the dentistry scandal to show us that the Dalhousie community has a lot of work ahead to build a more inclusive, equitable campus. Work on solidifying the union’s stance on equity could be a great thing.

But if the union wanted students to have any faith in what they’re doing, why would they not have announced they were voting on asking the university for a mandatory equity class? Why did they never advertise they’re working on an equity policy? Wouldn’t you want students to know about this so they can feel supported and well-represented, or ask questions if they’re concerned?

A draft of the equity policy presented on Wednesday includes this clause: “Student union solidarity is based on the principle that all members are equal and deserve mutual respect and understanding. As members of the students’ union, mutual respect, cooperation and understanding are our goals.”

If the DSU executives actually cared about student solidarity and keeping students included in their actions, then why, this year, did they never advertise (except in some cases where they did advertise these points after the Gazette asked them to):

These are all points where your average student could have seen what was happening and been moved to become more involved with the union, but these opportunities were missed. Each DSU executive makes more than $30,000 a year and they employ a communications person. Yet, they did not advertise any of the above points except in a few cases where the Gazette asked them to first. The Gazette was able to communicate all of these points in the last year, when our combined staff salaries are less than $55,000 a year.

If the DSU want anyone to believe they actually care about students, they could start by making basic efforts to involve their membership – 10.5 per cent of whom voted in the last election, where one executive ran unopposed – in their activities.

So, I ask the DSU executives, why haven’t you done that yet?

Jesse Ward
Jesse Ward
Jesse, editor-in-chief of the Gazette, is a fifth-year student of journalism at Dalhousie and the University of King’s College. He started university with three years of experience writing for Teens Now Talk magazine, where he is now copy editor. Before writing a story Jesse likes to think about how his metal detector could finally be useful in researching this one, but there is never a way it could be. Jesse has produced writing and interactive features for and The Chronicle Herald. He may be followed on Twitter, @RealJesseWard, or from the Gazette office on Mondays around 8 p.m. to his home in West End Halifax. Email Jesse at

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