A big win for students

The University announced last week the addition of a student position on the University Budget Council. Mark this one in the “big win for students” column. What started off as a seemingly unrealistic idea formally proposed to the administration two years ago by then-Student Government President Liam O’Rourke is now a full-fledged reality. The idea was picked back up in March by last year’s Student Government representatives, who passed a heavily-supported resolution calling again for this change. Current SG President Natalie Butler followed through and continued advocating for the change through the summer, and we’re now seeing the surprising potential of strong, responsible, well-organized student activism. It sent a resounding message to our administrators, and they answered accordingly.

However, the student UBC member will be selected each year by the administration, and we’re already beginning to hear the rumblings of cautious skepticism among students. The concerns being voiced are entirely legitimate. Could this student position be filled with a passive student who doesn’t aggressively advocate on students’ behalf? It is indeed a possibility.

Although the position will be held this year by a democratically elected SG president, we can’t expect that this will always be the case. I hope that future student members of UBC will commit to meeting regularly with student members of various budgetary entities. The student member of UBC must be held accountable by his or her peers to represent student interests earnestly and faithfully. Otherwise, this victory amounts to little more than a meaningless charade. Students must be aware of who is representing them, and two-way channels of communication must be established from the start.

Matt Portillo
Former Student Government representative