I am sure most of us received about 300 Facebook messages last week. A large chunk of those messages were in fact about the Commission Meeting. The first few said it was last week but the second wave said it was this week. I’m willing to bet that about 75% of students that received these messages either ignored them or didn’t know what the Commission is. So I decided to delve into what the Commission is and why it should be important to you (mostly because the word “delve” is underused).
The Commission is a big meeting where every student has a vote. This might sound basic, unimportant, and silly, but it really isn’t. The purpose of the Student Union is to represent your voice. You elected members to listen to you and represent you. Unfortunately, because most of those representatives are only human (except Rufus, the dog), they can’t read your minds. So it is very important to come out to the Commission Meeting if you want to be heard.
During the Commission meeting you will also be briefed on what the Union is doing. Don’t like what we’re is doing? Tell us. If you think we should be focussing our efforts on finding out what services work and what services don’t, tell us. If you think we should be running a campaign to buy a parcel of land on the moon, tell us. If you have a sweet new idea or perspective on an issue, or want to bring up an issue, tell us.
Last year, voter turnout was at an all-time high at UTM. With such a large voter turnout, and such a contentious election, it would be a shame to let all that energy die out. In our society, people say that we need a strong united voice—but united in what? And how does that voice gain volume? If you disagree with what it’s saying, how do you get it to listen to you? How can UTMSU be the voice that represents agreement and disagreement in all aspects of your student life? The Commission Meeting is a great way to test the UTMSU, to see if they can take criticism and adapt to that criticism to make UTMSU a better service for students.
Don’t just be involved in the Commission Meeting, though. There are many ways to get involved at various levels. We have a board of directors (such as myself) which was elected with the executives, and most of us take our jobs seriously. As in, if you have a concern, we will act on your behalf. If you want to know why your club received the amount of funding it did, contact a board member. If you think that the Union stinks and is a corrupt cesspool, contact a board member with your ideas for better transparency and accountability. If you love the Union and think that it’s the best thing since sliced bread, tell a board member. Our job is to reflect your views in the second-highest decision-making body of the Union. (The highest is the membership at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), but I’ll talk about that closer to when it comes up.)
However, I leave you with something to consider about why you should get involved with the Commission Meeting. It’s an amazing apparatus that we are very lucky to have: the Commission allows the everyday student that wants change to suggest it. It allows for criticism and praise on every aspect of the Union. But alas, the last one, held on July 28, had 18 out of 23 members being current or former elected representatives or employees of the union. This leads me to believe that most of the ideas that were brought up at that meeting were already more or less on the table. How can the Union do anything new or different if the only students that show up are already a part of it?
Let me get to the point. The Commission is the voice of the students. Electing people to speak in your name is only half of making your voice heard—you can also give them direction. Sure, UTMSU does some amazing things, but it’s hard to be critical of any organization you’re heavily involved in; we need your input and the Commission Meeting is the place to do it. Don’t let elected officials and the people they hire use YOUR money and support without YOU telling them how, where, and for what. Come out to the meeting on Wednesday, Sept 22 at 6 p.m., and have YOUR voice heard. If you have any questions or concerns email me at Peter@utmsu.ca.