Right off the bat, yes, I am on the University of Regina Students’ Union Board. I am Arts Director, and I may have a slight problem when it comes to politics – I’m a little thin-skinned. Which isn’t to say that I have a problem with people disagreeing with me. Jordan Palmer voted against taking a Canadian Federation of Students stance, and I still think of him as a friend because I love the civil exchange of ideas that we shared. However, I do have a problem when people attack not my ideas, but myself, even if it is indirectly.
Should I be offended if someone calls the URSU board “incompetent” or insinuates that the board doesn’t have their best interest at heart, even if I know that I am competent and that I do have the best interest of my constituents in mind? When those accusations came up at the AGM, my first instinct was to stand up and defend the board. But instead, I stood up and defended a position by discussing the ideas, not the individuals. Here we are, a few weeks later, and I still can’t get those accusations out of my pallet. So here are a few responses to various editorials and comments I’ve heard. I speak on behalf of myself, even if the accusations are based on the board in general, or on other individuals.
“The latest instance [of URSU Executive abusing privilege] is Kyle Addison’s mudslinging against the Carillon [and Kent Peterson] on his student-funded blog.”
There are some things that Addison doesn’t deserve to be called out on. Addison using his blog to discuss an article run on the Carillon’s website [Ivory Tower Award Nominations] is just as abusive of privileges as Mr. Peterson posting the article on the Carillon’s website – both are ostensibly the opinions of the posters themselves, and both are posted on sites that the students fund. Whatever may be said within them, the URSU blogs are supposed to be a place where we can get a more direct idea of our student reps, and attacking them for posting their thoughts on an article posted on a website that the students funded is counterproductive to this more open political landscape.
“… free meals at the Owl. There are many options on and near campus for Kyle and his friends to eat. I don’t think it is appropriate to give them free meals at URSU’s pub …”
I don’t know where this came from. There is no provision anywhere that Kyle or anyone else would get free meals at the Owl. If I see him there, he pays, and every dollar that goes into the Owl helps support the President’s Advisory Council funds – which pay out to every student society (ASA, BSS, FASA, etc.). Kyle eating there is supporting our student groups.
“At best the current URSU executive is incompetent; at worst I fear partisanship may be the real reason they sit idly by.”
Lowering tuition is always a contentious issue when I bring it up around my faculty lounge (economics), because there needs to be a balance between affordability and quality. Immediately pushing tuition down to zero will increase the amount of people who want to take classes, but will cut off a huge portion of funding the University has to provide services. Of course I want affordable education for anyone who wants it, but I also want an education, and a class with 400-700 people with only one professor is not the way there. That’s why we don’t see dramatic tuition action, because we want to maintain the quality of education. Of course I want tuition to come down – I know many students who work multiple jobs just to pay their tuition and are forced to live on ramen and water. But saying that the students’ union isn’t doing its job based on that one factor shows a myopic view. We are also there to ensure that student groups receive funding, that students receive support during times of trouble (refugee funding, emergency tuition funding, supporting of student groups, a voice on disciplinary committees). Just because it isn’t all as flashy as putting money back in your wallet doesn’t mean that the students’ union isn’t doing many important tasks.
As for the idea of the “Ivory Tower Awards” being a work of satire, there’s a simple point to make. While I will never support the idea of taking away someone’s voice when they are trying to make a change, my biggest complaint comes from when the actual story has been obfuscated. In the Ivory Tower’s case, Mr. Peterson says that “Addison’s near-perfect execution of the CFS referendum in 2010 hardly infuriated the student body at all…”, ignoring the fact that Kyle didn’t execute the CFS Referendum. The Vote No campaign was run by Jeph Maystruck, the support for said campaign was moved by Adam Nelson and Ally Pilkey, and was supported by all but three of the board members. His job was to represent the board’s wishes. Kyle Addison is not responsible for the Board deciding to support Vote No, for any campaign decisions the Vote No group made, and for anything the Referendum Oversight Committee has done. Ms. Timmons did a fantastic job defending herself in last week’s issue – I encourage you to check that out.
What this comes down to is that I’m really happy that so many people are so excited about the Student Union, and want us to be held accountable to the students. But please, make sure you form your opinions on good information, not something posted “just to increase hits to [the Carillon] website so [they] can charge more for ads.” (Peteron’s commentary about my comments on the “We like to Move it Move it” post on the Carillon website, that I can no longer find). [Web editor's note: this comment was not left on the Carillon's website, but rather, by Peterson himself on a comment on the Carillon's Facebook]
[Bart Soroka is running for URSU VP Operations and Finance. And Bart, we do want to address a point that we failed to address initially. You’re right in that URSU executives are neither budgetarily nor constitutionally entitled to free meals at the Owl; although there’s a line item in the budget for executive discounts, that’s hardly the same. –Ed.]