By James Keller
The VP External should be one of two faces, along with the president, of the Students’ Union in the community. Representing University of Calgary students to local, provincial and federal governments and organizations is a primary responsibility. In addition, the VP External is required to effectively communicate with students and external entities about the objectives of the SU.
When we last examined Students’ Union Vice-President External Lauren Batiuk’s performance, she was doing a decent job. Not tremendous, but good nonetheless. Little has changed.
She’s accomplished versions of all her campaign promises.
She promised to address the community, and she has. Although much of the visible work was done by the president, she says she was involved in many of the presentations. Her role on the Senate gives her a unique opportunity with a small but important segment of the community, and she’s taken satisfactory advantage of this.
She said she would address student loans, and in lobbying meetings through the Canadian Association of Student Associations, she has, even if her greatest accomplishment was changing the way students change their addresses.
She’s actively lobbied politicians regarding tuition, both provincially and federally. It is unclear what effect, if any, this had (another maximum increase makes you wonder), but her effort should be recognized nonetheless.
She wanted meetings "behind closed doors," and that’s what happened. If only she communicated these efforts better to council and to students, her accomplishments would have been easier to pick out.
She also continued efforts to leave CASA–despite a disagreeing council and despite never attempting to gauge students’ views a fight she’s tackled with far too much zeal. She deserves credit (and quickly takes it) for bringing the issue into debate, but she should have left it alone sooner and concentrated on using CASA to its fullest potential.
In the end, Batiuk should have done more of everything, and done it better. Lobbying efforts started out fine, especially regarding the new Post-Secondary Act, and she saw positive results. Since then, and since the tuition decision, lobbying has tapered. Batiuk blames logistics, as legislature is now in session, but efforts still should have stayed higher than they did.
While she’s made modest efforts to listen to students, they should have been greater. She’s also failed to effectively communicate what she’s been doing.
In terms of interacting with media, she should be more involved and should have seen areas where the president, the default SU spokesperson, was failing.
Batiuk has problems with her fellow councilors, still seen by many as unapproachable, cold and rude. What’s more, she still doesn’t realize it. She’s fueled some fires in the SU’s recent downward spiral, but most of all she hasn’t been there to stop it. She keeps tight reigns on her own portfolio, but neglects participating as part of a cohesive executive.
For all the bad–and there is much to be desired–Batiuk has made positive contributions over her year. For this we should be grateful.