How to stay informed and shape your student union
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
The Douglas Student Union is gearing up for their annual election, set to take place in the next two weeks.
Voter turnout in DSU elections has historically been low. The 2016 election brought a 20 per cent voter turnout, much higher than the turnouts in previous years. The DSU is funded by fees paid by every student enrolled in classes at Douglas. As a union devoted to protecting student interests, it remains in the best interest of students to pay attention to how the union is doing so.
What is the DSU Board of Directors?
Many students are unaware of how the DSU is governed.
The DSU is a non-profit society that adheres to the Societies Act of British Columbia. They are part of both the BC Federation of Students and the Canadian Federation of Students.
The Board of Directors (recently renamed from “the representative committee” in the DSU AGM earlier in February) is an elected body of 12 students who hold a variety of roles. They are elected on an annual basis, and elected members may hold positions for up to three years. While the present holders of these positions still retain the titles of “representatives,” they will likely adopt the title of “directors” after the election.
The DSU Board of Directors meets on every second Monday, in meetings that are publicly accessible to all students. For those who cannot attend the meetings, a copy of the minutes of the meetings can be found on the DSU website, although it sometimes takes a month or two for the minutes to be accessible to the public.
What does the DSU Board of Directors do for me?
Each director is assigned one of many roles, in order to ensure that all areas of student governance are properly met. The Board of Directors consist of a Director of External Relations, Director of Finance, Director of College Relations, Director of Campus Life, Coquitlam Campus Director, three Directors-at-Large, Women’s Director, Pride Director, Aboriginal Director, and Disabilities Director. More information on the specific duties of these roles can be found on the DSU website.
The DSU Board of Directors is responsible for coordinating campus events. Every pub night, outing, movie screening, and free breakfast is organized by this board. They are also responsible for overviewing campus clubs and welcome weeks.
Perhaps less in the forefront is the DSU’s organization of student services. Through the DSU, students can access health and dental care, food banks, and general wellness services.
The DSU Board of Directors, alongside the DSU staff (who are not elected), organizes campaigns and fights for student rights. Notable, recent campaigns include Squash the Squeeze, which works to reduce the costs of post-secondary education, and Don’t Close The Doors, which focuses on improving access to adult basic education.
This Board of Directors is supposed to look out for students from all walks of life, whether they are international students, LGBTQ+, athletes, club leaders, etc.
How can I learn more about our DSU candidates?
For the past several years, the DSU election has involved two slates of candidates hoping to be elected to the board. Last year, the entirety of the DSU Representative Committee was elected from the Action Slate, who were running against NexGen. However, many past student governments have been formed from mix-slate results, and have been able to work together in cooperation.
During the campaign period of the election, candidates will have the option to participate in All-Candidate Forums at both the New Westminster Campus and the David Lam Campus. It is here where candidates and their slates will have an opportunity to promote their platforms and answer questions.
Candidates will likely be tabling in the concourse during both the campaign and polling periods of the election, open to answering questions and discussing their platforms to any students who would like to know more.
When and where can I vote?
Students will be able to vote for the next DSU Board of Representatives from 9 a.m. on March 6 until 12 p.m. on March 10 at both campuses. They will need their student IDs in order to vote. Unofficial results from the election will likely be available by the evening of March 10.