Candidates will officially announce their run for the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union on March 13 and voting will be carried out over March 22 and 23. All students are able and encouraged to vote, so what should we be looking for in a new USSU?
Surprise, the semester is more than half over, and that means it’s almost time for a great big turnaround in student politics and with that, new opportunities for student successes.
The USSU will soon be opening its doors to a brand-spanking-new executive team and members of student council at the close of the ongoing term. The stakes can be high for prospective students — vying for a position means campaigning, attending events, connecting with student groups and maintaining a positive image.
First things first, a top priority for the USSU now and well into the future should be transparency. Building positive and healthy relationships means communication and honesty. This may seem like an obvious objective, but it’s also one worth active attention.
The USSU executive and council members are an elected body, and they are responsible to the students they represent, as well as the university as an organization. The upcoming election is an opportunity for discussion en masse of issues facing students, and the ability to facilitate positive communication should be a priority for those running for seats at the USSU table.
There are a host of positive policy updates to bring to that table. In the 2016 elections, executive candidates promised nap rooms, a more cohesive USafe interface, easily accessible information about budget and spending, stronger support for students in academic disputes, a big old dose of Huskie pride for a boost to our sports events and more. This time around, the USSU should look to continue these past initiatives, as well as pursue new ones.
What about some possible moves? How about a push for greater Indigenization? Our campus is on Treaty 6 territory and there is an amazing and powerful body of Indigenous students studying here at the U of S. Support, respect and reconciliation are efforts to continually build upon, and frankly we could use the effort.
Perhaps the pursuit of greater availability of mental health support for students will earn some talking time on a soapbox or two this campaign season. Don’t be too quick to brush the discussion aside, as the U of S and its students and faculty alike would greatly benefit from more easy, open and accessible avenues for mental health support.
It’s hard out there for a kid just trying to get a degree, and even though there are a host of options already existing, it would be great to see more conversation and some simple, straightforward directions to services.
Another worthy project might be to build better connections between students and faculty. More often than not, the students that seem to be getting by are the students who talk to their professors, and for many that seems like an impossible or at least extremely uncomfortable feat.
The value of a good relationship between faculty and students goes beyond who gets an extension on their paper. We’re all in this together, and facilitating and encouraging communication can open doors and promote understanding and accountability from all angles.
There’s always room for improvement, and a USSU that works to build and support healthy, positive and meaningful initiatives and actions is a USSU for you. If there are other issues on your mind, bring them out at the first USSU election forum on March 14 at Louis’ Pub. Candidates will be present to answer questions and discuss their ideas for the year to come.
Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor