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All You Need to Know About the CSA’s Fall By-Election

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Written by Caroline Elworthy

With the Fall By-Elections set for the first week of October, the time for Guelph students to become aware and active within their student union has never been so prevalent. The CSA Fall By- Elections are an open call to all undergraduate CSA members to fill open seats on the Board of Directors; an opportunity for students to actively impact the future of their student union. 

To fully understand the impact of the upcoming By-Elections, a firm understanding how Guelph’s student union functions and what it exactly offers for U of G students. The CSA’s motto “Your Union. Your Voice” illustrates what the non-profit Association is constantly trying to accomplish on campus. The CSA has worked in close collaboration with Guelph students for over 41 years, striving to represent every student’s needs and interests through various student-run services, social initiatives and lobbying campaign.

There are numerous cost-efficient services which are offered through the CSA work to make campus a more easily accessible, open community. For example, the CSA currently assists in the functioning of the Bike Centre, Guelph Student Food Bank, SafeWalk, Sunday Cinema, Printing Services and the Student Help and Advocacy Centre.

As the general elections for a full-time Executive position on the CSA are held in winter semester, the Fall By- Elections are held at the beginning of the school semester to fill any remaining seats on the Board of Directors. In true adherence to representing, “Your Union. Your Voice” the CSA seeks to create a diverse Board of Directors as diverse as possible.

“Our Board has not only appointed and elected college representatives, but also Special Status Groups, like Guelph Queer Equality, C.J. Mumford, etc, to be a voice for the groups that are often most marginalized – on our campuses and in our society at-large” says Sonia Chwalek, the Communications and Corporate Affairs Commissioner for the CSA. The elected Board of Directors will then work under the CSA’s policies and direction to bring and debate student-voiced issues to a campus level of awareness and activism.

As this election is to further represent the diversity of Guelph’s student population, the CSA is looking for passionate members of the University who are committed to protecting and defending the rights of their fellow students. Any CSA member, meaning any undergraduate student who has paid their tuition fees is eligible to run. However, as the Fall Elections are held simply to fill any vacant seats remaining from the Winter Election, there are a select number of Colleges looking for candidates to represent them on the Board. A full list of the colleges can be found on the CSA’s website.

                Nominations for the Election run from September 8 to Sept 19, with an All Candidates Fair scheduled to be held in the UC Courtyard on September 29 to encourage communication and questioning between students and candidates. Each Director who becomes elected from the pending election will be expected to seek and address issues which are affecting students across campus in a transparent manner. To uphold the honest relationship the CSA prides itself on having with the student body, an Annual General Meeting is held yearly. During this meeting, all previous decisions from the past year are reviewed and any pending questions are discussed.

As the Communications and Corporate Affairs Commissioner for the CSA, Chwalek is in charge of making sure students are updated on current events, programs and campaigns at the University. A passionate advocator for student rights, Sonia Chwalek explains why the upcoming Fall By-Elections are vitally important for students to be informed about. “If you agree that tuition fees are too high and want to protect the academic integrity of our studies if you want to stop seeing the annual apologetic email sent by the president talking about hate on campus, and instead rather tackle all forms of oppression in a proactive way that addresses the real institutionalized problems, than your voice is needed.” says Chwalek.

The elected Directors can have a huge impact on what type of issues are dealt with in the coming school year and will impact the quality of the student unions here at Guelph. As students who pay tuition, attend classes and generally care about the well-being of our University community, we need to be prepared to ask candidates the tough questions. As this is your University campus that will be affected, it is of utmost importance that we as the collective student body participate in the All Candidates Fair on September 29 and let future Board members know what issues and campaigns are important to us.

  “Board members assume the fiscal and moral responsibilities inherent in being a Director of a not-for-profit corporation and must be prepared and informed; ready to participate in all major decisions made by the organization. “says Chwalek. Therefore, the future candidates that will become part of the Board of Directors will have an immediate impact on what kind of services and events are offered by the student union.

“In this way, Directors also help to shape and build the students’ movement. ” Chwalek reiterates.

 The nomination period for the vacant Board positions run from Sept 8-18, during which any undergraduate CSA member who is passionate about issues which shape their University experience are encouraged to run. A campaign week will then run from Sept 29-Oct 3, ending with a voting period on Oct 1-3.  All students are urged to drop by the All Candidates Fair on September 29, to let potential Board Directors about the issues they feel need to be addressed in the upcoming 2014-15 school year.

Currently, the Fall By Election are seeking to fill ten part-time volunteer positions in the following colleges: College of Social and Applied Human Sciences with one vacancy, College of Biological Science with one vacancy, College of Business and Economics with two vacancies, College of Physical and Engineering Sciences with two vacancies, Ontario Agricultural College with two vacancies and Ontario Veterinary College with two vacant seats. Any student wishing to apply can find the nominations sheet online at the CSA’s website.

If campaigning for a position on the Board of Directors seems like too much of a time commitment, this does not limit your involvement with the CSA. “There are a lot of opportunities to get involved with your students’ union, and not all require the same time commitment, skills, knowledge, or level of dedication.”  Chwalek reassures. The university is simply filled with opportunities for student and community engagement, and doors are always open at your student union on the 2 floor of the University Centre.  For more information on ways you can get involved in your student union, check out the website at www.csaonline.ca, which has a full list of volunteer and work opportunities at their various services around campus

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