USSU going into by-elections with 14 vacancies to fill

By in News
Current USSU members pose for a photo at the Global Climate Strike at Saskatoon City Hall on Sept. 27, 2019

With a high number of empty spots, the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union reflects on the importance of student leadership.

The USSU has made a call for student nominations to fill the open executive position of vice-president of student affairs and the 13 vacant University Students’ Council seats. Campaigning for the by-elections starts on Oct. 7, with voting happening on Oct. 9 and 10.

Though it is uncommon for an executive position to be vacant at this time of the year, the student councillor positions are frequently left to be filled at by-elections. The USSU would like to see more student interest in these leadership positions in the coming years. At the Sept. 26 USC meeting, President Regan Ratt-Misponas highlighted the organization’s commitment to facilitate leadership under their recently announced strategic goals called “The Path Forward.”

“We want this table here at the USC to be full, where good debate and where respectful dialogue can occur so that there’s a betterment for students that are attending the U of S,” Ratt-Misponas said.

On Sept. 30, 15 students interested in running for the USC openings attended a mandatory meeting in the Roy Romanow Student Council Chamber. The orientation, chaired by USSU general manager Caroline Cottrell, was an organizational overview covering the policies and responsibilities of the non-profit corporation’s members.

Attendees were given nomination forms that must be co-signed by 10 other students within a few days to be able to run in the by-election.

Tiegan Knot, a nominee for the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition seat, has attended the  USC meetings as a guest before and says being a councillor is a great way to interact with what is happening on campus while gaining new skills.

“It gives you a chance to work on speaking,” Knot said. “You’re giving an opinion for not only yourself but also those that you’re representing.”

Following the USC orientation, Cottrell had a second meeting attended by two students interested in running for the VP of student affairs executive position. Although Cottrell says that the USSU is currently covering the essential duties of the vacant position, there may be certain initiatives left undone if the full-time job is not filled.

“It puts pressure on everybody else,” Cottrell said. “The governance is still fine because we have three executives but if we dropped to two, it would be problematic.”  

Cotrell says it would be challenging to cover the student affairs responsibilities, which include being chair for the sustainability and student affairs committees, if the position were to remain open.

The nominees for the USC and VP students affairs positions will attend another mandatory meeting on Oct. 4 to go over procedures with a lawyer chosen as the Chief Returning Officer by the Elections Committee.

As for increasing the number of student nominations in the future years, Cottrell says that the current bylaws of the USSU and its constituencies make filling vacancies too difficult within the general elections timeline, which they are hoping to address. Reportedly, some constituencies have to elect their nominees for the councillor position. If these candidates are not chosen before the USSU elections, the constituencies are left without representation until a by-election happens.

“We will have to try and persuade all of the constituency associations to change whatever it is in their bylaws that’s not lining up with our bylaws,” Cottrell said.

Cottrell says that finding student leaders is critical for the USSU to continue as an independent organization for the benefit of students.  

“I really believe that this representation of students in the programs that the USSU provides are really important,” Cottrell said. “People don’t always distinguish us from the university system, but they would miss the services we provide if we were gone.”

Noah Callaghan/ Staff Writer

Photo: Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor