As a student and a reporter I was completely uninformed, and I wanted to change that. When one of my co-workers mentioned in passing that they were attending the University Students’ Council meeting last night, I decided on the spot that it was time for me to take charge and learn about what was going on around me. Remembering an earlier plea for a blog post, I immediately volunteered to attend, proud of my own initiative. Little did I know that this promise would lead to a behemoth of a meeting that spanned nine hours.
Things started innocently enough. The speaker immediately recognized the importance of the motions at hand—they were not your regular motions—and insisted all patrons close their laptops. Not two minutes later, my vision was impaired by the glint of no less than 10 laptop screens, along with a myriad of smartphones.
Electronic communication was a theme that would continue throughout the meeting, with comments and conversation constantly relaying through the media of texts and Twitter. While debates raged on within the room, there was a whole other level of unfiltered conversation darting invisibly through the air.
After a couple of PowerPoint presentations, the floor moved to the issue on everyone’s mind—the restructuring of the USC. Going in, I had a distinctive, possibly overpowering lack of knowledge, but I emerged from this meeting in a daze consisting of education and awakening.
The student body is completely unaware of exactly how much power the USC possesses, and that scares me. The USC members consist of a cavalcade of characters that stand divided. Half the room consists of members filled with passion and love for the student body, while the other half stand indifferent—voting along with the hoards and appeasing the popular opinion.
Some motions were met with extreme debate, yet passed almost completely uncontested—really, the only motion that was met with mixed emotion was the one that changed the very structure of the elections system.
A large queue of USC members debated with fervour, enriching me, the casual observer, with their own thoughts on the matter, and what they were trying to achieve or disrupt. While this debate was truly interesting and inspiring, it was clouded with unprofessionalism at times.
While passion is a beautiful thing, there is an inherent tarnishing of the whole system when people blatantly travel around the room, spreading their own views at times when they do not have the floor. Speeches were met with applause, even though this is a practice which is not allowed. Although the meeting stretched on into early hours of the morning, this is not an excuse for making personal attacks and otherwise undermining the democratic system that was originally put in place.
From what I can tell, this debate is not the norm, and even though it was not conducted properly in my opinion, it was a welcome sight on a campus that is largely full of indifference. The main point of the whole debate was the discussion of the needs of the uninvolved student, and I greatly admire the ability of the USC members who attempted to bring this to the forefront.
It is truly saddening that so many students are so uninformed, and with streams of council meetings readily accessible, this is something that more students can and should become involved in. This was my first council meeting, and although it spanned more subject matter than a typical meeting would, I feel that I have grown as a person, and am ready to continue my newfound attendance.