While some who were engaged now disregard, others only learned of URSU weeks ago
This week’s Carillon on the move article was originally pitched to our news editor as an opportunity to learn about students’ perspectives on the Annual General Meeting (AGM) hosted by the University of Regina Students’ Union’s (URSU), which was held over Zoom and was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. on Thursday, March 2, 2023.
The AGM is a place where both URSU board members and general members (students) can propose motions to kick-off or amend current policies and initiatives, where current URSU executives present on their job performance over the past year, and is one avenue for students to vote on what happens with student levies after the university collects them and transfers them to URSU. Other writers have covered, and will continue to cover, the events of the AGM itself, but we were curious about how students on campus were feeling following what ended up being nearly a four-and-a-half hour Zoom call.
What the Carillon learned through these interviews was that students interviewed do not make an effort to attend URSU AGMs or to stay up-to-date with the actions of their students’ union, which is the group meant to advocate on their behalf. Of the students interviewed for this piece, one student who elected to remain anonymous explained that they hadn’t even heard we had a students’ union and was not aware an AGM had taken place until they were notified through questions in the interview for this article.
Similarly, other students only learned of URSU’s existence over the last few weeks of the winter 2023 semester. As a police studies student in her first year, Samantha Carnie noted that she first learned about the union when someone currently running for a position on next year’s board stopped her in the hallway to campaign for her vote.
“I heard about it because I had someone come up to me about their campaign,” Carnie noted. “So, I’ve kind of heard from that, but that’s about it.” This first-year student mentioned afterward that she had heard nothing about URSU’s AGM in advance of the meeting.
Another student named Kathlene Puertas said “I know it [URSU] exists, I get emails from them, but I’m not particularly involved.” When asked about the AGM, she said she hadn’t made communications from URSU about their AGM a priority. “I’ve somewhat skimmed emails about it, but not really read it or anything.”
To summarize, Puertas added “I just wasn’t really particularly interested in being a part of it.”
Kinesiology student Emily Blackmore claimed that she wants to be more involved, but due to her already demanding student schedule she simply cannot make the time. “I’m not that involved in too much here. I wish I was more, but even just taking a bunch of classes and stuff is already a lot, and I still try to socialize and do intramurals.” Blackmore hadn’t heard about the AGM in advance of the meeting, and noted she likely wouldn’t have had time to attend regardless.
Social work student Dagan Vala noted that while he was involved with the actions of the students’ union through his first degree which he completed in 2016, he has not maintained the same level of engagement through the second degree he is currently pursuing. “I guess I had friends who were more involved so I kind of tagged along with them, but then they all graduated. So, then I came back, so again I haven’t really made it a focus for this time around.”
Vala also claimed to have heard nothing about the AGM in advance of the meeting, and closed with the sentiment “I suppose this time I didn’t really focus on engaging too much, just trying to get my degree and get out.”
While URSU did advertise their AGM in advance, it seems as though their methods were not successful in drumming up student interest in URSU and their governance this semester. It remains to be seen whether URSU will opt for new methods of outreach to engage the student population, and whether current students can be bothered to engage with their students’ union.