Student associations have a long history of changemaking. From America’s civil rights movement in the sixties to Quebec’s red square protest of 2012, students have often been at the forefront of activist movements.
This is because whether they be in Asia, Europe or America, every student association has the same goal: Representing students.
The VCSA seems to be the exception.
What is the VCSA?
VCSA is the short name for Vanier College Student’s Association, and it is Vanier’s official student union. They are accredited, meaning they are fully independent from the school, who is obligated to collect a 35$ fee per student for them.
This makes for a budget of nearly half a million a year, of which every penny must theoretically go back to the students in the form of events, services, merch or more. The people in charge of deciding how that money is used are eleven elected students, who together form The Council. I am part of this year’s council.
Since the beginning of their mandate in June 2019, this year’s council has accumulated blunder after blunder. First, they allocated over 10,000$ to renovate our office in no need of renovating.
This money was used to buy several appliances, including, but not limited to, a fridge, a toaster, a toaster oven, a microwave, a boiler, a coffee machine and a dishwasher. Everything necessary to comfortably accommodate the VCSA’s office.
While not inherently bad in themselves, what was wrong with these purchases was that no student was allowed to use the appliances. Indeed, shortly after these “renovations” were complete, the VCSA council made it an office rule that no student may utilize any office utility, all of which were bought with student money.
To push it even farther, the council has as well often used the budget to buy food for themselves. They order themselves supper for every single meeting they hold as well as buy enough food to keep the office cupboards full.
That food is also off limits to students as they have made it an office rule that food may only be consumed by council members.
To compensate the amount of money they spend on themselves, one would think they would make sure to be generous when it comes to funding student projects, but such is not the case.
Amongst the entities that have been either denied a full or any budget are the Vanier Robotics Team, the Vanier Model United Nations, the Vanier First Aid Team as well as the Vanier Clubs, of which there are currently eighteen. Even the Insider found itself given a much-reduced budget.
In addition, the council has shown little regard for the student body it is supposed to serve. More than one student can attest on being kicked out of the VCSA office on the grounds of being “disruptive”, “detrimental to the workspace” or for simply asking to use an office utility.
This is a gloomy legacy for past councils who had instated an open-door policy, where any student could stay in the office for as long as they chose. Makes sense when it is their money paying for the office in the first place.
I believe that every student should know what is being done with their student fees. There are many other instances of VCSA acting irresponsibly that I haven’t even mentioned in this piece.
We have to hold the VCSA accountable for their actions and ensure we get adequate representation for our taxation, or else they will keep getting away with filling their bellies off student money and kicking students out of the office for trying to use the appliances their money bought.
By their actions, the current council brings shame to itself, to its student body and harms the credibility of student unions worldwide. It is our duty, as students and as citizens, to make our elected officials know that they are answerable to their voters first, foremost and always.
Written by: Ayda Boumechka