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By Russ Cooper
In mid-August, CSU President Amine Dabchy and his executive returned from a tour of Southern Ontario universities full of ideas. The team had met with other student unions to gather perspective on how best to serve our student body.
Dabchy says while he collected valuable tips from unions elsewhere, he recognizes this year isn’t about ‘elsewhere’ — it’s about here. And he’s clear about what they feel needs to be done.
“We want to reform.”
“[The CSU] has stagnated a bit over the last decade,” he says. “We want to make some bold decisions and go a drastically different direction.”
It’s fair to say, given the CSU’s historic track record of management malaise, he and his Vision team have a complicated task to turn the ship around. According to Dabchy, the CSU’s rudder in this, the union’s 30th anniversary year, will be reestablishing trust with students and administration with transparency and an open-door policy.
VP Finance Samuel Moyal will prepare bi-monthly financial reports of all large expenses. For discussions of smaller expenses and anything else, Dabchy plans to hold open informal discussions at Java U in the Hall Building every second Thursday.
“In order for students to trust their union, we need to show where we’re going. I want people to engage with me, if it’s a disagreement, a criticism, even just to say hi. I’m still a student, after all,” says the third-year poli-sci/economics major.
Vision is staying on course with a number of other campaign promises. They’ll be expanding services by creating a café at the Hive and converting Reggie’s into a sports bar, both with food service. In keeping with their environmental commitment, Vision will be inviting mayoral candidates to an October debate surrounding the greening of Mackay to coincide with the municipal election Nov. 1. As for working together with university administration, one of their biggest priorities is the proposed student centre (see Journal, June 4, 2009) and producing “something concrete” to show students by year’s end. While many of the planning details will be under more rigorous negotiation following orientation, “[…] after our tour to Ontario, we have an idea of what we want,” he says.
As well, Vision will be collaborating with the university admin on how to involve the student body in the Capital Campaign, and to discuss how it will affect their student experience.
The university is proposing a $1 fee on each credit to be put towards: Keeping libraries open 24 hours-a-day; to transforming the fourth floor of the LB Building into study space; and creating online access to coursepacks and textbooks.
While Dabchy won’t formally support the proposal, he believes “it’s a good project that can have a positive effect on students.”
A proposed $2 per credit fee contributing to the new sports complex at Loyola, he says, is bit more complex due to the length of the multi-year construction proposal. Monies collected now will be put towards future phases of the project; as a result, students under Vision’s administration will be contributing to faculties they may not get to use.
He has chosen to remain neutral on the issue for the time being. “But I do look forward to a healthy debate in council on both issues,” he says.
“[The university and student union administrations] share many of the same interests. We will disagree on some issues, no doubt, but we will work together in good faith.”
One such divergent issue is the recent resolution to exclude credit cards as a method of paying tuition. Dabchy states he understands the cost-saving reasoning, but does not support the decision as it renders many students in a sudden complicated financial position.
“I don’t believe the issue was communicated properly, and it has left some students surprised and unprepared,” he says.