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Photo by Mariah Wilson

Students’ Union should not award scholarships to current employees

By Mariah Wilson, September 25 2017 —

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an organization in want of good scholarship candidates should not look within their own paid staff. So why does the Students’ Union think they’re any different from the rest?

I’m not new to the realm of scholarships. I’ve had more disappointing rejections after investing hours in my applications than I’ve had offers. But these rejections slowly taught me that you aren’t defined by awards.

Still, I wasn’t pleased with my rejection for the Eric Lahoda Memorial Scholarship after seeing on the SU website that two of the 10 available scholarships were awarded to SU faculty representatives that are already paid honourariums.

I value the work that SU representatives are paid to do, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for the SU to give these scholarships to its own employees rather than other students who need financial aid to continue doing unpaid work on campus.

The Eric Lahoda Memorial Scholarship’s criteria hasn’t changed in the last 10 years. It’s modelled after the commitment and dedication Eric Lahoda demonstrated through his work as a member and executive of multiple SU-registered clubs. The key point is that the award is about compassion, hard work and commitment that a student demonstrates by serving our campus in a positive way. SU representatives have this outlined in their job description. They get paid to do that — it’s one of the main reasons we elect representatives. These scholarships are meant to appreciate the work non-SU members engage in on campus as an added bonus for their volunteer work.

Plus, it’s mentioned that this scholarship is decided by the SU Clubs Committee, of which every seat belongs to a member of SLC, so it is inherently biased. It is a conflict of interest to compare a coworker’s application to that of an unknown student. This is why many companies do not allow interns or paid staff still attending school to apply for open scholarships. Instead, some set up a reimbursement program which is very similar to the honourarium SU representatives already receive.

Since 2014, it’s been a growing trend to see SU representatives awarded the Eric Lahoda Memorial Scholarship. With the ongoing review of the SU’s Code of Conduct, I hope that this trend stops for the benefit of all students on campus.

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