Guess who’s wasting your money?

By Kris Kotarski

The sob stories and excuses were almost enough to make me forgive.

For two weeks, I ran around the Students’ Union offices hounding my elected and acclaimed officials because I wanted to find out what happened at a Canadian Alliance of Student Associations conference–a conference where five members of our SU attended on our student dollars.

It bothers me when people waste my money and what I heard bothered me a lot.

The Calgary delegation came back fighting and bickering amongst themselves because of what transpired in Ottawa. David Rassin, an External Commissioner, attended no seminars and got an all-expenses-paid trip across Canada. President Barb Wright and Vice-President External Oliver Bladek let their personal differences dominate their conduct throughout the trip while VP Academic Nic Porco didn’t do as much as he should have, all because he was upset at Bladek for not including him in lobbying meetings with Members of Parliament. Only External Commissioner Erin Welk made the most of her time by attending whatever seminars she could and by learning about CASA and lobbying.

What caused this? Rassin is the brightest member of our SU. His intelligence is obvious, as is the fact that he is very knowledgeable on student issues. Yet he boycotted CASA. He didn’t fulfil his obligation as a delegate nor did he show any regard for the students back in Calgary who picked up his tab. And while Rassin’s actions should have been condemned outside of the usual conduits of Gauntlet news and personal conversation, there is a bigger problem not too far below the surface. Rassin’s reprehensible conduct is just a symptom of the pervasive attitude of this year’s SU and Students’ Legislative Council.

The inability to handle personal differences destroyed any potential that group once had. President-elect Matt Stambaugh missed four SLC meetings in the winter term, enough that some threatened impeachment for the current commissioner. Is it surprising that Stambaugh missed meetings? Perhaps. But is his or Rassin’s misconduct any worse than the actions of those who attend week in and week out? Debatable.

All year, ineptitude and personal attacks dominated council chambers. It’s crazy to want to sit through the joke motions, the grandstanding and the hours of moronity that define Tuesday nights. Why would anyone willingly attend a meeting where a motion to ban irony from the SU gets rejected by only one vote?

I’ll remind you again, we pay these people money.

My SU levy goes toward the salaries of the executive, the honoraria for the commissioners and for all the trips to Ottawa they take. Some waste our money more than others and do so out of bitterness, blind principle or their own belief that theirs is the only right answer. However, a few still keep the students in mind and try their best.

Rassin’s conduct in Ottawa demonstrates these abuses but there are more–a couple of weeks of tracking down information showed me that. All I can say is we’re lucky next year’s council is a whole new group which hasn’t wasted our money yet.

Kris Kotarski can be reached at

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