Students’ Unions in BC, a quick breakdown

by MrContentGenerator

The Western Student did a bit of looking around with an eye for students’ union demographics and make up of boards of directors. We made a list of 230 students’ union leaders and broke down their gender, position on their board, and took notes on some other interesting tidbits.

Some students’ unions don’t list all or any of their directors, so those are left out of the breakdown. Those left out due to lack of information include Emily Carr Students’ Union, Langara Students’ Union, North Island Students’ Union, Northwest Community College Students’ Union, Royal Roads University Student Association, Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College, and Vancouver Island University Students’ Union. The University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society only has it’s executive included.

Every students’ union has board of directors’ positions that are, well, weird. We simplified these differences as much as possible.

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Camosun College

The Camosun College Student Society (CCSS), not affiliated to the Alliance of BC Students and Local 75 of the Canadian Federation of Students/BC Federation of Students has a board of directors of about twenty two positions. Currently, about 58 percent of the board of directors are women. The senior staffer of the CCSS is Michell Turcotte who is the Executive Director.

The CCSS board of directors is mostly broken down into campus representatives and equity positions.

The purposes of the Camosun College Student Society, in its bylaws, are to, among other things, organize students on a democratic basis for the advancement of students’ interests; to promote and represent students’ interests in relation to Camosun College; and to seek to ensure that Camosun College programs are accessible to everyone.

Capilano University

The Capilano Students’ Union (CSU), affiliated to the Alliance of BC Students and not affiliated to the Canadian Federation of Students/BC Federation of Students has a board of directors of about fifteen positions. Currently, about 67 percent of the board of directors are women. The senior staffer of the CSU is Christopher Girodat who is the General Manager.

The CSU board of directors is broken up into three portions, an executive with external and internal roles, equity positions, and faculty representatives.

The purposes of the Capilano Students’ Union include to advocate for a more accessible, high-quality post-secondary education

College of New Caledonia

The College of New Caledonia Students’ Union (CNCSU), not affliated to the Alliance of BC Students and Local 13 of the Canadian Federation of Students/BC Federation of Students has about eight positions on its board of directors. 25 percent of the board of directors are women, one of the lower ratios in the province. The senior staffer of the CNCSU is Leila Abubakar who is the Executive Director.

The CNCSU has three executives, three equity positions, and a representative for each campus.

College of the Rockies

No one knows anything about this students’ union. They’re not affiliated to the Alliance of BC Students and the CFS/BCFS may still claim them as members but its not really the case.

Douglas College

The Douglas College Students’ Union (DSU), not affiliated to the Alliance of BC Students and Local 18 of the Canadian Federation of Students/BC Federation of Students has a board of directors of about twelve positions. Half of the board of directors are women. The senior staffer of the DSU is Steven Beasley who is the General Manager.

The DSU has a board of directors of roughly three equal portions between executive, equity, and at large positions.

The purpose of the Douglas Students’ Union includes:

to achieve the goal of a system of post-secondary education which is accessible to all, which is of high quality and which is rationally planned; which recognizes the legitimacy of student representation and the validity of students’ rights; and whose role in society is clearly recognized and appreciated

Emily Carr

The Emily Carr Students’ Union (ECSU) does not have a list of board of directors members on their website. They are affiliated to the Canadian Federation of Students/BC Federation of Students as Local 33 and their senior staffer is Executive Director Lori MacDonald.

Kwantlen University

Once dubbed “The Ones Who Sue” for being the most litigious students’ union in the country, the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA), affiliated to the Alliance of BC Students and Local 26 of the Canadian Federation of Students/BC Federation of Students, has about eighteen board members. 28 percent of KSA board members are women, a number on the low side of the spectrum. The KSA General Manager is former UBC AMS President Jeremy McElroy.

The KSA board of directors is massive compared to other similar institutions. There are representatives for every faculty, several representatives for each campus, equity positions, and an executive. The KSA also has a vast staff compliment.

The purposes of the KSA include:

To promote and advance the cause of Universal Accessibility to all forms of postsecondary education in the province of British Columbia

University of Northern British Columbia

UNBC has two students’ unions, one for undergraduates and one for graduates.

The Northern British Columbia Graduate Student Society (NBCGSS), affiliated only to the BC Federation of Students, has eleven board members. With by far the least gender parity of any students’ union in the province, 91 percent of its board of directors are women. The senior staffer of the NBCGSS is former Northern Undergraduate Student Society President Alden Chow.

The NBCGSS board of directors is split between faculty representatives and an executive group.

The Northern Undergraduate Student Society (NUGSS), not affiliated to any student groups, has about thirteen board of directors members. 54 percent of the board of directors are women. The senior staffer at NUGSS is former NUGSS President Duncan Malkinson, who apparently didn’t think it was incredibly tacky and bad form to have himself hired by his own board of directors. The NUGSS mission statement doesn’t speak to accessible education.

The NUGSS board is made of strange primary and secondary executive positions.

Nicola Valley Institute of Technology

The Nicola Valley Institute of Technology Student Society is a fledgling organisation without long-term staff and frequent board of directors turnover. Most of the board positions are designed to represent students at the Merrit campus, but because there are members at a small campus in Burnaby all board of directors meetings take place through telecommunications.

Okanagan College

Okanagan College has two students’ unions, one for just the Vernon Campus and one for the rest of the campuses.

The Okanagan College Students’ Union (OCSU), affiliated to the Canadian Federation of Students and British Columbia Federation of Students, has eighteen elected student representatives on its website. One of the more imbalanced boards of directors, 72 percent are women. Their Executive Director is Brianne Berchowitz.

The OCSU structure appears pretty complicated. There are campus representatives and campus groups, at large positions, and an executive.

The Vernon Students’ Association (VSA), not affiliated to any student group, is mostly not worth mentioning. The VSA, like the students’ union at College of the Rockies, does little to advocate for students, mostly holding minor events on campus. The senior staffer of the VSA is General Manager Eric Reist.

Regent College

Arguably not worth including here, the Regent College Student Association (RCSA) represents students at the University of British Columbia’s theological college. While UBC should arguably not have a theological college, because theology is silly, a student is a student and there is room for theological students in the student movement. The group is not affiliated to any larger student group. The RCSA has ten directors, 30 percent of whom are women.

Selkirk College

The Selkirk College Students’ Union, which doesn’t appear to have a website, is affiliated to the Canadian Federation of Students and BC Federation of Students.

Simon Fraser University

Simon Fraser University has two students’ unions, one for undergraduate students and one for graduate students.

The Simon Fraser University Graduate Student Society (GSS), unaffiliated to any student group, has six executive positions. The executive is evenly split between men and women. Their Executive Director is Pierre Cenerelli.

The Simon Fraser Student Society, not affiliated with any student group, has fourteen directors. 36 percent of the directors are women, making for little balance on one of the biggest students’ union leaderships in the province. The SFSS Chief Executive Officer, a pretty grand title for a students’ union, is Martin Wyant.

The SFSS board of directors is mostly divided between faculty representatives and executive positions.

The SFSS purposes include:

To promote, among other goals democratically determined by the Society, the principles of public, universally accessible, high quality post-secondary education, and of meaningful undergraduate student participation in all aspects of University governance.”

Thompson Rivers University

The Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union (TRUSU), affiliated to the Canadian Federation of Students and BC Federation of Students, has thirteen members of its board of directors. 38 percent of board members are women. The Executive Director of TRUSU is Nathan Lane.

The TRUSU board of directors is divided equally into at large directors, equity positions, and the executive.

The purpose of TRUSU includes:

to achieve the goal of a system of post-secondary education which is accessible to all, which is of high quality, and which is rationally planned; which recognises the legitimacy of student representation and the validity of students’ rights; and whose role in society is clearly recognised and appreciated.”

University of British Columbia

While The Western Student usually stays away from UBC, as they have a robust student newspaper and several student politics blogs already, they are included here for comparison. UBC has three students’ unions, one for all students in the Okanagan campus, one for undergraduate students in the Vancouver campus, and one for graduates in the Vancouver campus.

The University of British Columbia Alma Mater Society, not affiliated to any student group, has five executives. Three of the executives, including the President in whom power is vastly over concentrated both in policy and in practice, are women.

The UBCAMS objects include:

To advance the cause of higher learning in the Province of British Columbia.”

The University of British Columbia Graduate Student Society (GSS), affiliated with the Alliance of BC Students, has seven directors about equally divided on gender lines. The GSS General Manager is Mark Wellington.

The University of British Columbia Students’ Union Okanagan (UBCSUO), affiliated to the Alliance of BC Students and the Canadian Federation of Students/BC Federation of Students, has fifteen directors. 32 percent of UBCSUO directors are women. The UBCSUO has an Executive General Manager, Bob Dunkemolle.

The UBCSUO board of directors is dominated by faculty representatives an executive and at large positions.

University of the Fraser Valley

The University of the Fraser Valley Students’ Union Society (SUS), not affiliated to any student group, has nine board members. Most board members of the SUS are women.

The SUS has a board of faculty representatives and executives.

Vancouver Community College

The Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College (SUVCC), which doesn’t appear to have a website, is affiliated to the Canadian Federation of Students and BC Federation of Students.

Vancouver Island University

The Vancouver Island University Students’ Union (VIUSU) does not list its directors on its website. VIUSU is affiliated to the Canadian Federation of Students and BC Federation of Students. The VIUSU Executive Director is Michael Olson.

University of Victoria

The University of Victoria has both an undergraduate and graduate students’ unions.

The University of Victoria Graduate Student Society (GSS), not affiliated to any student group, has four current executives half of whom are women. The GSS Executive Director is Stacy Chappel.

The University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS), not affiliated to any student group, has twenty directors. 55 percent of the directors of the UVSS are women, which is exactly the proportion of women students in the University overall. The UVSS General Manager is Dale Robertson, though Research and Communications Manager Ben Johnson is responsible for supporting actual political work.

The UVSS is largely unique in the province by having a board of directors with mostly at large positions. There are a several equity positions, probably more than any other students’ union in the province, and an executive.

The purposes of the UVSS include:

to achieve the goal of a system of post-secondary education which is accessible to all, which is of high quality, and which is rationally planned; which recognizes the legitimacy of student representation and the validity of students’ rights; and whose role in society is clearly recognized and appreciated.”

British Columbia Institute of Technology

The British Columbia Institute of Technology Student Association (BCITSA) is not affiliated with any student group. The BCITSA website doesn’t even have a page for political campaigns. The BCITSA Executive Director is Caroline Gagnon.

The BCITSA has a vision statement that doesn’t speak to education accessiblity at all and a values statement that includes “Client satisfaction is #1”.

[Disclaimer: This article deals in part with gender, a topic that unavoidably evokes many different perspectives. For what it’s worth from an anonymous blog, the method for determining gender was a mix of estimation and entering names into howmanyofme.com. Breakdowns of gender on students’ union boards of directors is valuable in determining proportions in student representation but it isn’t exact. Ultimately, political values and actions are much more meaningful.]
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