The upcoming Student Union Society (SUS) by-elections were cancelled this week after the only candidate to come forward retracted their nomination. Five of the 14 available positions will continue to be filled on the SUS board of directors, four by executives.
Brianna Worthington, a first-year Bachelor of Social Work student, would have ran uncontested for the faculty of professional studies representative position on the SUS board of directors.
The board of directors is the governing body of the SUS. In addition to other responsibilities, members of the board oversee the work and performance of the executives, and give final approval for the annual operating budgets, changes to policies, executive goal plans, and project initiatives.
The current SUS board consists of the four executives: president Gurvir (G) Gill, vice president external Rajdeep (Raj) Dhaliwal, vice president internal Jaleen Mackay, and vice president students Sharnpreet (Sunny) Cheema. Of the 10 available student representative positions, only one is filled by Andrew Stahl, College of Arts representative.
Gill believes that the SUS executives are capable of holding themselves accountable on the board — without additional student representative oversight — to their rolls and to the society, adding that it was the society members that voted the executives into power.
“In a sense, the executives and our other board representative are overseeing one another, we’re overseeing the organization,” Gill said.
“The students selected these executives and board rep to run the organization and you know, we’re doing the best with our skills and our knowledge and of our intention for the students.”
In the most recent SUS election, both Gill and MacKay ran uncontested for re-election to their respective positions. Two students ran for each of the VP internal and the newly-created VP student positions, which resulted in the election of Dhaliwal and Cheema respectively.
The number of student representatives on the board has been steadily decreasing since last year. Board member count dropped from a total of eight voting members in January of 2017 to six in January 2018. Numbers again dropped in May to the current board members; a total of five voting members.
Gill was unsure of why there was a lack of interest in applying for the positions, but believed students’ busy schedules or lack of interest in politics may have played a part.
“We let students know the options are there,” Gill said. “I mean, I think we do a fair amount in our marketing and just reminding students to get involved and get on the Board and there’s no interest.”
Advertisement for the by-elections took the form of posters, word of mouth, several social media posts, and three newsletters sent out by email.
According to SUS policy, there is no minimum number of student representatives needing to hold seats on the Board to allow the Board to fulfill its functions. Gill believes this is in order to allow the organization to continue running in the case there’s no student interest to fill student representative positions.
Plans for when the next by-election will be held will be discussed at the SUS’s upcoming Board Meeting, but Gill was not able to speculate on when the by-election might occur. By-elections take around two months to organize and run.
“It may or may not happen because I’m pretty sure the elections for the next executive will be hopefully called early January,” Gill said.
Image: The Cascade