It’s that time of year, dear reader: the election of a new slate of directors for our cherished and beloved students’ union. Platforms have been written, a debate has been scheduled for March 8, and posters have been slapped on walls and bulletin boards across campus.
It’s heartening to see that candidates and interested students will be going into this campaign with actual issues, ready to be debated and discussed. I, for one, would be surprised if the issues surrounding the proposed Greek society do not crop up in debate.
Even still, a couple of issues have not generated as much buzz around campus. They all have the potential to affect the day-to-day lives of MUN students in direct and tangible ways. Because of this, I feel that candidates and students need to address the issues listed below on the campaign trail.
The provincial government has predicted a massive $726 million deficit, and many reports indicate that it will cut public spending drastically. Meanwhile, Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest union, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), has announced that its strike fund is flush with funds. It has also rolled out an advertising campaign attacking the government.
The Muse contributor Michael Sullivan, reporting on an appearance made by MUNSU and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) at pre-budget consultation hearings in February, wrote (Vol 63, Iss 19) that both organizations are “working with the government to assure that these cuts do not harm students.” Later on, CFS-NL director Michael Walsh assured Muse readers that the government would not touch the current tuition freeze: “I don’t think that the government will backtrack on the fantastic work we’ve seen in post-secondary education over the past decade.”
In my view, this approach has its potential dangers. Regardless of whether or not a continued tuition freeze is in the cards or not, the student body should be discussing all of the possibilities that the upcoming budget might deliver to MUN students on the campaign trail.
As has been reported before in the Muse, the Breezeway is no longer the venerable student institution that it once was. A variety of changes, from the demographics of those that live in residence, to the growing popularity of George Street, has meant that the MUNSU-run club will, according to current projections, run a deficit of about $161,000. The student body, through the membership fees they pay, will have to make up the difference.
This money could be spent on something other than propping up a struggling bar. Granted, MUNSU has acted to try and turn things around by soliciting new ideas from the student population. I can’t say, however, that I know how many students offered up earth-shattering ideas for the possibility of winning a $30 gift card for Empire Theatres.
Sticking with the status quo on this issue will continue to cost MUNSU funds that could be spent creating new services for students and improving those that already exist. In my opinion, a frank discussion between students and candidates on the future of the Breezeway needs to happen.