As soon as the calendar flips to March, it seems like university students are suddenly bombarded with announcements. Job postings go up, internships start accepting applications, and various organizations on campus hold elections for the next year. There’s no shortage of positions for student leaders at CapU. The Business Society of Capilano University (BSCU) is holding open elections for the first time. Students who have declared their candidacy for the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) Board of Directors are campaigning as we speak. And, quietly, the University has sent out two emails to all students with subject lines starting with the same phrase in all caps: CALL FOR NOMINATIONS.
The email lets students know that nominations are open for elected student representatives of their two highest decision-making bodies: the Board of Governors and the Senate. There are two student seats on the Board of Governors and four on the Senate.
In the last two years, the students in these positions have mostly been acclaimed. Winning by acclamation means that a person runs for a position and, since no one ran against them, they are elected to the position by default. No one votes for them, no one questions their competency, no students decide whether these people should represent the student perspective at the highest levels. Lucky for us, most of the students who currently occupy these seats are fantastic young leaders who bring dedication and skill to their roles.
And then there’s me. I am one of those two student representatives on the Board of Governors. But I’m not special: in fact, far from it. I got here by fluke – I was in the right place at the right time. That was in March 2017, and now, two years later, I’ve been acclaimed to the role twice. My 19 months on the Board of Governors have given me invaluable professional experience and let me advocate for fairness and sustainability where it matters most. Through this role, I served on the CSU Board of Directors until I stepped down in August (I decided to start doing this “studying” thing everyone seems to be talking about). My time with the CSU helped me grow as a person, make new friends, and prepared me to be an effective student leader.
I wish more people knew about the incredible opportunities students in these leadership positions get, so here’s a quick rundown:
According to section 6 (27) of the University Act, the Board of Governors is responsible for “the management, administration and control of property, revenue, business and affairs of the university”. This means the University’s budget, policy, tuition rates, real property, assets (including investments), collective bargaining, approval of degrees and programs (from a business perspective) and strategic direction. Students on the Board of Governors engage in high-level decision-making that affects everyone in the CapU community and will leave with an experience few (if any) people their age have.
The Senate is responsible for everything academic – from learning outcomes to course outlines, program requirements to curricula. Everything to do with teaching and learning is developed and approved by the Senate. Student members of the Senate provide a student’s point of view to make sure processes like academic appeals and withdrawal procedures are fair and help develop and oversee course content, program offerings and admissions criteria. This is an excellent place for an undergraduate student to get experience with academia and educational policy-making.
I hope to see lots of people running for election to both the Board and the Senate this year. If you do, you may find themselves in a position to develop your leadership skills and make a difference at the same time – even if you get there by fluke.
-Hassan Merali, Capilano University Board of Governors