It's been a busy week at 251 MacEwan Student Centre.
Not only is the 66th Students' Union general election heating up, but the 65th Student Legislative Council is dealing with a Black History Month gone wrong and a decision by university administration to charge six of its students with trespassing.
To commemorate Black History Month, the SU typically hosts a number of awareness events for students.
Last year, events included a graffiti performance, weekly Wednesday concerts-- on top of Friday That Empty Space performances-- and a break dancing display, all for $2,000. As well as these events, an off-campus group, Collectively Eclectic, hosted a night of music and dance. The event went so well, SU president Dalmy Baez suggested the group work with them for this year's BHM.
Vice-president events Luke Valentine then made the decision to ask the group to plan a BHM night. They came back with an event-- one that cost about $35,000.
When Valentine brought the news back to executive cabinet-- a twice-weekly meeting of the president, the four VPs and two rotating commissioners elected by the Student Legislative Council-- the costly plan was quickly kyboshed and Baez and Co. trimmed the event down to a $2,000 budget with a $25 entry fee for students.
Last year's Eclectic event brought in $7,000 in revenue for the SU through rental space and the use of equipment. This year it will cost the SU what the entire month cost last year.
Valentine fucked up. Giving a blank cheque to a non-student organization to plan an event was an awful move.
But of even greater concern is why Valentine's mistake, and the poorly thought out fix-it plan, wasn't aired at SLC so that students' elected representatives could a) be aware of it and b) have the opportunity to vote on the current plan and perhaps pool their mental resources to think of a better one.
The fiasco was not mentioned in any of the executives' reports at SLC, nor was it brought up in the executive cabinet report given by Kat Lord, a commissioner at the meeting and Valentine's only opponent in the race to be next year's VP events. Additionally, the other commissioner, Riley Fairbanks, who is running for VP external, could have, and should have, brought it up.
The SU not only talks about, but invests a great deal of time and money into, getting more students on campus involved in what they do. By not bringing this to the commissioners' attention, they are not only hurting students by abusing their tuition dollars, they are hurting their own cause by exploiting the little trust students put in them.
On another front, the university has charged three students, and is in the process of charging three others, for trespassing when they displayed the Genocide Awareness Project, which compared graphic images of the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide to abortion. The move has drawn criticism from free speech watchdogs across the country and the university isn't talking.
Rather than distancing themselves from the poorly thought out move, the SU Clubs Committee has summoned Campus Pro-Life to a hearing regarding their official status as a club.
Though one good decision won't fully counteract a poor one, the SU has a chance to redeem themselves by defying what university administration would likely support-- disbanding the club and therefore lending student weight to a university that is floundering in the public spotlight-- and act in the best interest of the students they work so hard to represent.