Imagine for a moment that you are very powerful. Imagine that you have the ability to sway the university in a new and better direction. Now stop imagining, you dummy, because you do have that ability! UFV’s Student Union Society (SUS) elections are coming in just under a month, and what the heck are you going to do about it?
But who should we elect? Is there some magic quality to look for in a candidate? No — I’d say there are three.
First of all, experience with SUS itself is an asset. The more the candidate understands their potential position, the better they can serve. On top of that, the longer and closer they have worked with SUS, the more likely they are to see its weak points and therefore address them effectively.
Experience related to their specific position is important, too. For example, a VP external who has never dealt with the external world (e.g. customer service, human resources) is probably going to face a learning curve they aren’t prepared for. People are scary and cruel! Look for their previous job and volunteer experience and see if it lines up with the responsibilities of the position they’re running for.
SUS has been rather notorious for its mysteriousness. Meeting minutes don’t get posted online, interviews are difficult to procure, and the email information on some parts of their website is out of date. It sucks. It is impossible for us as students to contribute positively on the periphery of SUS if we don’t even know what their problems are. What’s with all the weird funding decisions? The frequent redefinition of what makes a club legitimate? What’s that fancy plaque outside your office compensating for? Let us know, SUS! We want to help!
With an exec who, at the very least, is willing to ensure that meeting minutes are made public, we as students would not only be more compassionate towards whatever the organization’s speed bumps are, but we would be more able to help. I don’t mean to suggest that there will be a sudden surge of students throwing petitions everywhere, but nobody can protest a pipeline, for example, if they don’t know that one is being built.
A good leader is not, first and foremost, a boss. By the same token, a good SUS executive is a fellow student, not a descendant of some royal university bloodline. They should engage with students on a student level by being accessible and good-natured. They should be compassionate to student problems beyond the walls of their offices. They need to care about the people they’re representing.
But do not be swayed by accessibility alone; a good leader also needs to be able to make decisions. None of this “Uh, oh, well, what do you want?” crap. When given two uncertain paths, it is better to go down the wrong one and learn from the experience than to pace hopelessly between them. The ability to make decisions combined with an understanding of and concern for what students want and need will take SUS leadership to a new level. A SUPER SUS, if you will.
It is probably not possible that any one candidate will have all these qualities perfected, but they are the ones we should be looking for as voters. An experienced, honest, assertive, and down-to-earth human being is what SUS needs to begin to heal whatever mysterious wounds it has developed. And it’s all up to us students to elect such people.