The State of SMCSU
Important and timely concerns coming off of the completion of SMCSU’s 2017–18 Elections
The Mike Editorial Board
The University of St. Michael’s College (USMC) has roughly 5,000 students. Nine of them ran for six executive St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) positions. SMCSU is the highest student governing body at USMC. Nine for six of what might otherwise be considered the most prestigious student leadership roles at USMC.
Never mind the candidates who ran, became elected, or their qualifications. Simply put, and it needs to be said: that’s outrageous — and it’s so without even mentioning the fact that no candidates ran for three other no less important positions: Vice President Finance, Vice President Athletics, and Vice President Religious & Community Affairs (RCA).
Nine for six to represent 5,000: three vacant, for the time being.
Again, set the particular candidates and executives aside for a moment and ask yourself the following: Is this the way USMC students want to elect their highest student governing body? (By hoping that the students who run unopposed for certain positions are qualified, moreover?) All candidates will be academically qualified, of course, in that they are required to have a minimum cGPA of 2.5 to run for and hold office. They will also “agree to model good citizenship and to engage in responsible and respectful conduct which reflects positively on USMC students, USMC and the broader community.” However, that being said, nine for six to accurately represent the needs and wants of 5,000 is not, by any stretch, a sustainable model.
SMCSU handled $140,000 in student fees in 2015–16, via a levy of $14 per semester ($28 on the year) from full-time USMC students. At the very least, given USMC’s prescribed increased (dare we say, intimate) involvement with the new SMCSU as outlined in the “Re-Imagining Student Government at St. Mike’s Report” through such measures as requiring a USMC Administrative Advisor to co-sign for any “expenses that meet a cost threshold of more than $500,” the new SMCSU will be held financially responsible going forward.
While signs so far have suggested that the “re-imagined” SMCSU will have much less autonomy than the previous SMCSU, the tangible effects of such indications, including what they might mean for the USMC student body, remain to be seen. Still, they deserve to be monitored closely.
What is clear and unfortunate however is that the SMCSU has a major image problem. In no small part, this is due to the despicable actions of many (though definitely not all) previous SMCSU members over the course of the past “six plus years,” from those who participated actively in the corruption to those who acted as bystanders.
What is also clear is that a significant number of qualified USMC students who might otherwise have run for SMCSU positions chose not to because they didn’t want their names to be associated with the student union — and to be thus damaged by association. This number includes, to our tremendous benefit, some key members of The Mike’s current masthead.
Here at The Mike, provided they cater to and represent all USMC students — and truly follow through on their promises for equity, while remaining transparent in the process — we want the new SMCSU to succeed. So far, it seems our primary goals align: we both hope to rebuild and reconnect the entire USMC student community.
The plain reality is, as it stands, a great deal of USMC students want nothing to do with SMCSU. A good year could go a long way toward changing that. Here’s to 2017–18 being a step in the right direction.