BY JOSH BURY
When a school’s population goes from apathetic to engaged, there are bound to be some growing pains.
That’s exactly what happened last year at Conestoga College. While the 2012-2013 academic year was one of passive non-participation, 2013-2014 saw a record number of candidates and voters for all Conestoga Students Inc. elections and selection processes.
The board of directors election is probably the best example. Last year, there were 15 candidates running for the eight positions. Competition was close — the final seat on the board was won by one vote. A record number of students cast ballots.
Despite the record-breaking numbers, the election had issues. Some eligible voters didn’t get the e-mail to vote initially, or received it at a college work email account. Given how close the race was, this was an issue. One vote could literally have made a difference.
But the year before that, there weren’t even enough candidates to form a board, and CSI was forced to recruit additional directors in order to have enough to satisfy their own bylaws. As a result, no students could cast a ballot.
Regardless of the bugs, I’d rather have the former than the latter.
The progress that students have made this year is important, and that’s why I’m urging everyone at the school to continue it. When students are politically engaged, they reap the benefits directly.
The board of directors is largely responsible for determining how the budget will be spent, so students can elect the directors who represent their interests to affect the budget indirectly.
But beyond voting, students can bring their issues directly to CSI at any of their board meetings, which are open to the public. Last year, they were held on the last Wednesday of every month.
One general arts and sciences student, Zoey Ross, did just that last year when he presented a proposal to get honey back as a condiment option in the Doon campus cafeterias. Some might argue that’s a minor issue, but Ross got results for students by bringing it to CSI’s attention. Honey is now available at the Doon campus’s Sanctuary cafe.
Finally, following politics has one other positive side-effect: it keeps those who wield power honest.
CSI has a multimillion-dollar budget that is paid for by students, and there needs to be interest in how it is spent.
In addition, bringing attention to the internal workings of CSI can only make the whole operation more transparent. When discussing an organization that had projected expenditures of over $6 million last year, transparency is important.
Not only that, but many of the board members elected for this year included transparency as part of their platforms. It’s not unreasonable to hold them to that standard.
BY JOSH BURY