The recent general meeting of the Federation of Students on Monday, March 24, 2014 was an absolute travesty that resulted in exposing the democratic process as a sham.
As a student who has experience at the national, provincial, and municipal bargaining level as a representative for youth affairs, I am shocked at the low democracy reached at this so-called general meeting of students.
The most frustrating part of the entire debate was watching as a group of radicals and alternative thinkers hiding under the umbrella of WPIRG and other clubs hijacked the meeting and set to forcing their own ideas upon the student body.
I find it outrageous that around 80 students could force a costly and inefficient proposal on a body of around 29,000 students.
The conversion of critical 24/7 silent study space into a library of books that are only available to members of certain clubs is illogical and inefficient. The conversion even fails to recognize the results of the student SPACE survey for the SLC, which indicated a need for study space, a McDonalds, Starbucks, or even a nap room, before the addition of an underutilized library that will consume space and money the Federation cannot afford to spare.
There once was a clubs library in the SLC, however it was removed for study space based on poor usage. Therefore, the clubs library is an illogical proposal that will negatively affect student life at the University of Waterloo.
The WPIRG organization, an external campus group, preaches the ideals of direct democracy yet abuses the system to force proposals that I wager would receive significant outcry from the student body. They flooded the general meeting with their own members, and proxies that I am sure were being completely misrepresented, in order to gain a majority.
Furthermore, will WPIRG use a portion of the $4.75 it collects from every student, with an estimated term revenue of $137,750, to assist in the financing of converting a room into a library? Or will it free ride off the backs of students and consume valuable space in the Student Life Centre?
In my opinion, with WPIRG’s revenue, how can they not afford to rent space close to campus in conjunction with interested clubs? But wait, it is almost impossible to publically access the financial statements of the organization, so I can’t fathom what they are spending their money on.
The travesty that occurred on Monday was not just the fault of WPIRG and the affiliated clubs, but also the fault of Feds. The marketing of important events, such as a general meeting, is abysmal or non-existent. The Federation of Students are failing to properly inform students of the consequences of their decision to not attend, and in turn are causing the debacle that we call a general meeting.
Democracy is broken at the University of Waterloo, and I feel the ideals of our federation are lost to the voices of a few.
Alexander Wray, 1B Planning