This article is for the student who finds themselves curious or a wayfarer. Either or, I think you’ll note some small insights into the ongoings of that delectable hub of hormones called the VCSA. Essential information for the upcoming strike-vote is herein included as well.
New Man Strikes the Fan
Beniel Dube gave some nervous chuckles at the beginning of the interview. He seems to enjoy company. The Clubs Coordinator is warm, neither trying to come up on top in conversation, or guilty of concern for the flaws of others.
“The clubs are a lot” he reflected. “So 100% of my time not devoted to school I try to put in there.”
Beniel is currently busy undertaking efforts to get the Cinema Club a new TV, and learning about the infighting that brought the Coffee Club to its Sophoclean finish.
As clubs coordinator he is the connection between the clubs (prospective or preexisting) and the Student Association, advocating for their interests.
“I just have to make my point and hope other members agree,” he said practically.
Within the VCSA he was surprised to find himself initially lacking in an understanding of the other executives habits and dispositions. Their meetings can be a quagmire of attitudes that clash and contradict. Sparked conflict drags on the less than fruitful assemblies.
Beniel admitted feeling naive when, at his first experience of the council, his ideas faced unexpected pushback. However, he is quickly adapting to the shouting and ass-spanking that finds its home in Vanier’s VCSA.
An Ailing Republic
As Vice-President the rambunctious Dylan Darragh finds his role in offering assistance to the president and in promoting the VCSA’s events and brand.
This semester, Dylan’s been trying to be more present in the lives of students and has scraped together plans for a Boat Party, with an already organized Valentine’s Day Meet and Match Event. The relationship that sprung out of last year’s event, Dylan owes to his incredible matchmaking powers.
Along with Ben Stix, the treasurer, Dylan and I discussed the difficulty that the VCSA faces in representing the student population.
“I think the VCSA is potentially democratic,” spoke Ben with a rhythm you could only really get from a man who handles computers. “The type of a person who votes in a student election is a certain kind of person and that’s not a good thing.”
Dylan agreed and said he would like to see a more democratic institution but they just “don’t have the voters.”
Nonetheless, the Vice-President is still an active member of the Coalition of Anglophone CEGEPS (COAC).
“We discuss what we want to do as a council because as Vanier we don’t have the power to modify the education system,” Dylan remarked of the federation in his professional manner. “We’re just too small, only all the CEGEPS together have the power to makes changes.”
The Strike and a Vote
Revealing it’s more radical side (yes you Vero Galavis), the VCSA has also been coordinating Vanier’s student strike. Dylan let me in on the association’s support for the growing movement.
On February sixth, students will take this issue to vote in B223 at UB. They will have the chance to debate, to filibuster, and to question. They will determine whether Vanier will follow other schools, like neighbouring St Laurent, into the fray for intern compensation at the CEGEP level.
Ben, who himself did a stage, explained how the absence of any remuneration for stagiaires leaves them vulnerable:
“Because they’re not paid, they’re not protected by the Québec Labour Code, there’s no protection against workplace accidents, no protection against sexual harassment.”
CUTE magazine, a Québec-based publication, covers this campaign for paid stagiaires. Their writers see the movement as connected with the larger goals of eliminating the recent growths of cheap and unpaid labour.
As they observe, these price efficient employees have their ordeals exacerbated by such factors as their sex, class, or impairments. They may be more vulnerable to stress and burn-out, and may they have a greater need for income.
Although these worries cannot quickly be eliminated from the education system, they can still be eased. Working with compensation allows workers’ protection under the Labour Code and disincentivizes the search for paid employment while students are still studying and acting as interns.
Hope for a positive turn-out next week is high in the VCSA. Whether we’ll succeed in improving the status quo depends entirely on the student’s willingness to attend. Of course, without enough voters, the vote cannot proceed!
Written by: William F.F. Blake