Understanding URSU


URSU is not a student government.

In fact, when you say “student government,” and refer to the goings-on as “student politics,” you are grossly misrepresenting the purpose of a students’ union and what kind of organization a students’ union should be.

URSU is a non-profit organization and it deserves to be run as one. More importantly, it deserves to be considered as one not only by students, but by those running for a position on its board of directors. To be sure, URSU deals with “governance,” but it is not an organization that should be governed with the goal of “profitability,” nor is it an organization that imposes rules and regulations upon its citizens, i.e. university students. URSU is an advocacy body and one that must exist to advocate for the rights, needs, wants, and interests of its members to society, our governments, and our citizens.

URSU is not Parliament. It’s not Congress. It’s not the Senate. URSU is not a place for political posturing and politicking in big, grandiose gestures. URSU is not an “us vs. them” system. There is (or should be) no party system in a non-profit organization. It’s a group of people working together to best serve their members.

Critics who rail against URSU for being “partisan” really do not understand the full meaning of the term in this context and are incorrectly transplanting a word from their national and provincial political lives into non-profits governance. To be partisan is to advocate for a particular cause. By definition, URSU is a partisan body: the cause it advocates for is the interests of students.

By misunderstanding partisanship, critics of URSU’s so-called “partisanship” are failing to understand the very essence of URSU and this has begun to show itself in our elections for the board of directors. Our elections have morphed from an event undertaken to better URSU into a monster where the group of students with the flashiest posters and the most banal and inane platform win. Remove mandatory meal cards? Hand out more drinks at Cougar and Rams games? Give me a break. This isn’t high school anymore, and any student who responds positively to your offer of free candy is a student who fails to understand the role of a non-profit advocacy body. If you want to best serve the interests of all students, you’ll quit pandering to them and offer real solutions to real problems that students face.

But of course, this is where the problem with a body that represents a diverse membership arrives: how do you represent the interests of all students? This criticism, that all students must be represented, is a common one lobbied against our current board of directors. They argue that by taking a stance they are marginalizing students who do not share that stance. However, this “diversity” stance is really just a stance taken up to make their criticisms seem less narcissistic and individually based and give them a “universal” quality that no one would disagree with. The flaw in this criticism is that it still suggests that students are one singular amorphous mass,and that if they aren’t representing my interests,then they aren’t representing the interests of other students, since really, all other students are just like me. The truth of the matter is that you’ll never please everybody. The university is an incredibly diverse place with incredibly different points of view converging and competing. But if you never take a stance, you won’t please anybody and will fail your sole mission to make the lives of students better through advocacy.

URSU is not a government. URSU is an organization that advocates for students. If you think that URSU is supposed to only throw sweet parties and not take a stance on issues that not only affect us now, but in the future, as well, then I would suggest you run for the board of your local elementary school student council.

Jonathan Petrychyn
A&C Editor


  1. George Costanza 16 March, 2012 at 11:26

    The Carillon's tags are always hilariously one sided and biased. Is The Carillon suggesting that fiscal responsibility is something only suited for high school SRCs?! Not only is fiscal responsibility the foundation of a successful Student Union but also a principle for success in life. If you don't promote fiscal responsibility then youre nothing but a money pit to take student's money and employ all your friends with it. You must be accountable for how you spend money…especially when its not yours.

  2. The Carillon 16 March, 2012 at 14:43

    Guilty as charged – I am hilarious!

    Anyways, 'twas but a small joke, and not even one with any political motivations. I was basically saying that these theoretical people who are running for URSU (as mentioned in the article) are treating URSU elections like they're SRC elections, while juxtaposing that with actual platform ideas from candidates. Sorry if it was a little too conceptual.

  3. Tiffany 20 March, 2012 at 08:47

    Mandatory meal cards cost a student upwards of $2,050 a year. They're then forced to use it on options sold by Chartwells – options that are usually less healthy than groceries. 
    How are finances and health not real problems that need real solutions?

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