By Ana Ruth Diffley and Cello Lukey
Since its inception, the SRC has been a constant work in progress. There have been many bumps in the road, like the scandal in 2013/14 known as “Candygate” when the SRC president bought $700 worth of soon-to-expire candy on sale without approval. The student response to this controversy was high. It even inspired the name of that year’s Tune Squad student album: Candy Democracy and the Ninja Fort Apocalypse.
As fourth years soon to be graduating, however, we were disappointed by the number of executive ministers who ran unopposed in the recent SRC election. Is this a new phenomenon? If so, why has student interest in the SRC declined?
Over the past several years, at least 7 students have run for the three exec positions. Last year we saw our first unopposed candidate in three years: Lauren Byrne for vice-president. This year we saw the trend continue with both the presidential and minister of finance candidates running unopposed.
If you are not convinced about a decline in engagement, let’s look at the past four years. We should note that this information may not be entirely accurate since the SRC does not keep records of the number of candidates who have run in previous years. We sourced this information from relevant alumni and a rigorous search online. In the three school years between 2012 and 2015, between 7-10 candidates ran for executive positions. Only in one year—2012/13—was a position an unopposed contest. All other years had two, three, and even four candidates running for each position.
It is also important to keep in mind that the student population has grown by over 200 students over the past four years. This makes the decline in the number of candidates even more significant relative to the growing size of the student body. Furthermore, this trend does not seem to be affecting the other major student organization on campus, as the Residence Council (RC) elections this year drew over 40 candidates. We are left to question: what is happening to the SRC? Both of us are past RC members and we opted against running for the SRC, as many others have. It looks like it’s an underappreciated role with tons of work and boring meetings–a recipe for burnout.
Let’s be honest—we are not saying there were many “good old days” of the SRC or astounding levels of student engagement in the past. In our first year, the SRC office was the place to grab a piece of candy on our way to class or ask for funding for a project. Students have continually underappreciated the work done by the SRC. Yet the fact that candidates are unopposed is concerning. We argue it is not the people, but the model failing.
The SRC has also struggled to make progress on major issues over the past few years. In our first year, the SRC introduced a revised constitution, and this year they are still working on the exact same issue. We would have hoped to see SRC move on to new projects, but if anything the organization seems to be stagnating and losing momentum. This lack of progress, combined with long hours and little recognition, is a recipe for disenchantment.
The consequences of this disenchantment are severe. With only four people running this year, being on the SRC executive team is no longer competitive. We don’t have an option between platforms. We are left with little choice but to accept the vision of the few engaged students who still have enough hope to run.
We need an SRC. We want an SRC. But if there are no choices for candidates for executive positions then is it just a Student Council, without the Representation?
This year, the executive team has taken on a massive amount of work juggling a constitution revamp, organizing shuttles (shouldn’t a minister do this?), and other unseen time commitments. Since the ministers are overworked, we suggest that the SRC needs to learn to delegate their work instead of doing it all themselves. Hire experience when you don’t have it. The exec positions might be more appealing if the role appeared to be an opportunity to effectively influence the future of the student body.
Furthermore, ministers fail to return for to council for subsequent years. Thus, each year we see the SRC reinventing the wheel. From the perspective of two soon-to-be graduates, the SRC needs a stronger vision and excitement for the projects they are working on. They need experience.
Candidates Running for the SRC Executive Team, 2013-present
2017/18 (4 candidates total)
President: Nicole Zanesco
Vice President: Hayley Birss & Joannes Bodendorfer
Finance: Max Notarangelo
– 2016/17 (5 candidates total)
President: Marcela Villaca, James Blumhagen
Vice President: Lauren Byrne
Finance: Daan Krujif, Colin Wilt
– 2015/16 (7 candidates total)
President: Aida Ndiaye, Bria Mele
Vice President: Graham Streich, Janali Gustafson
Finance: James Blumhagen, Ross Denny-Jiles, Ella Granbois
– 2014/15 (10 candidates total)
President: Sidney Sproul, Celine Allen, Kyle Macrae
Vice President: Kyle Kirkegard, Ben Goldstein, Ammar Kandil, Bria Mele
Finance*: Kelly McQuade, Ross Denny-Jiles, James Blumhagen
– 2013/14 (7 candidates total)
President: Graham Fischer, Caleb Raible-Clark, Sajjan Karki, Sydney Sproul
Vice President: Lauren Head, Forrest Getz, Tari Ajadi
Finance*: Trevor Mannion
*this was not an exec position at the time