By Justin Schellenberg, September 26 2017 —
Students’ Union president Branden Cave is starting the President’s Consultative Task Force (PCTF) in an effort to connect the SU to more groups around campus. The initiative was one of Cave’s platform points in the SU general election last March.
PCTF will consist of 10 representatives from student stakeholder groups and 10 students-at-large. A student stakeholder group is defined as a body meant to represent a subset of the general student population.
Cave expressed that he understands there will be crossovers between students from targeted stakeholder groups and students-at-large.
“I don’t think is going to be quite as clear cut,” he said. “The goal is, basically, 20 students from outside the SU.”
Cave directly contacted certain campus groups including the Dinos, Leadership and Engagement Office and Women’s Resource Centre.
“Think of it essentially as a focus group,” Cave said. “An opportunity to provide our students another avenue in having their voice heard within the SU.”
The main goal of the PCTF, as described on the SU website, is to have all students on campus feel that they are being considered in the decisions made by the Students Legislative Council and to better inform SLC on the diverse perspectives at the university.
Cave said the new task force will provide the SU with students’ feedback from different cross-sections of campus than is already present in SLC through faculty representatives.
“I want to make sure SLC has the information and input from students,” Cave said. “That way, when we make a decision in SLC that [faculty representatives] can consider that feedback in addition to their own perspectives.”
Among the groups Cave hopes to include in the task force is the Scholars Academy — a program that provides individual support for high-achieving undergraduate students.
Scholars Academy program assistant Caillie Mutterback said they already feel well connected to the SU.
“We have a fairly good working relationship,” Mutterback said. “Last year we had a number of students who were actually on the council.”
Those members sat on the Senate and served on SLC as science, arts and kinesiology faculty representatives. This year, five members of SLC are part of the Scholars Academy. Cave himself is a member of the group.
“While there is no official relationship, I would say that we do get a lot of the same information, and we share a lot of the same values,” Mutterback said.
While there may already be many connections between the Scholars Academy and SLC, Mutterback believes their members should still serve on the new task force.
“The students who are in the Scholars Academy generally tend to be very active,” she said. “If you’ve got questions about what direction the university should go in, I think that they’d certainly have something to say.”
Another group contacted for the PCTF is the Q Centre. Margaret Patterson, one of the co-chairs of Queers on Campus Club, said they believe the task force is a good idea because they would like to see more open communication between SLC and students.
However, Patterson said the PCTF needs to be made an inclusive and safe place.
“If they want to make it inclusive, it really depends on who they choose to pick,” Patterson said. “My biggest hope is that it provides students with a chance to say what’s going on.”
Patterson added it might be better if individual students were to join the task force instead of having representatives from clubs.
“You want to hear people’s personal experiences,” Patterson said. “It can be kind of daunting to try and speak on behalf of people that people assume are exactly like you. You don’t want to tokenize people.”