Editorial: Blessed be the qualified

By Amanda Hu

Hey, would you like to know about a job that pays around $30,000 a year and sometimes doesn’t require any qualifications? What’s more, you can get one of these positions while you’re an undergraduate student, work on campus, have an awesome resume-padder and it includes postering pictures of yourself all over school as a prerequisite! You could have all this and more if you become a member of the University of Calgary Students’ Union executive.

The best part of this job is, if candidate numbers continue to dwindle and you get acclaimed–automatically instated in your position–because no one wanted to run against you, there isn’t even a hiring process to go through! If, however, someone does step up to the plate, there’s a catch: approximately 4,500 people, who make up the active voting population in an SU election–a measly 20 per cent of the U of C’s total student population–could stand between you and your $30k. You will probably also have to know about student politics at the U of C and in relation to the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government to stand a real chance at winning in some of the contested categories. Some positions, like senate members, are actually meant to be filled by someone from the general student public who isn’t SU inclined. While it doesn’t pay as much as an exec job, you get an awesome free parking spot on campus for your whole term!

Granted, the SU isn’t necessarily everyone’s cup of tea. Being the president or one of the vice-presidents involves a lot of actual work on things like lobbying the provincial and federal government regarding things like tuition increases, dealing directly with university administration, acting as a liaison between our school and other post-secondary institutions, deciding how to administer $25 million in assets and $12 million in annual revenue, helping students with academic grievances, spearheading affordable housing initiatives and booking musical acts in one of Canada’s most popular concert venues.

If none of this sounds interesting, there is another way to control where that money goes and maybe even pocket some of it yourself: voting in the SU elections!

Not only is this a chance to exercise those democratic rights and be proactive on campus–which doesn’t seem to be very enticing, given voter turnout–but you directly affect the hiring process of the president, VP academic, VP operations and finance, VP events, VP external, all 16 of the various commissioners, all the faculty representatives, the board of governors members and senators.

Helping pick the most qualified candidate for each job creates an SU that can push the government to freeze tuition increases and ensure that events like Bermuda Shorts Day, Cinemania, That Empty Space and all the concerts held in Mac Hall not only stay afloat, but also get even better.

Even a commuter student whose parents pay for his or her tuition, comes to campus just for class and leaves right afterwards–one who isn’t all that affected by enriched campus spaces, on-campus activities and increasing academic costs–can reap the benefits of a well-suited SU. This organization is possibly the key to opening up affordable housing, which could mean cheaper rent and maintaining the reasonable price of the U-Pass. The SU also has control of a monetary fund known as Quality Money that they can allocate towards various projects that benefit students, like scholarships. Electing representatives that push this money towards these ends could mean more rewards for all your hard work in school at the end of the year.

In the end, voting–or running, for that matter–in the SU elections helps ensure that someone doesn’t potentially get a high-paying position on the sole basis of being a little less lazy than everyone else. At the very least, you can vote as a way to stick it to that annoying, stuck-up candidate that put his or her dumb gradient/acrostic poem/alliterated/outdated joke-filled posters everywhere and wasted the first 10 minutes of your favourite class telling you why they’re so awesome at student politics.

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