Student consultation isn’t the answer

For the past five years, and I&rsquo;m sure many years before that, Federation of Students candidates have included &ldquo;improved student consultation&rdquo; in their platforms as solutions to many, if not all of the problems they promise to fix, should they be elected. I understand why &mdash; candidates want to appear open and transparent with accountability to their constituents.&nbsp;</p>

Yet every year, the electorate hears the same answer to almost any hot topic issue they’re asked about: the solution is improved student consultation. I’m not buying that anymore and neither should you.

Outside of the students who sit on council or the standing committees either run a club or volunteer with one of the services Feds offers (approximately 200-300 students), you’d be hard-pressed to find a student on this campus who could tell you what Feds does for them. 

In many ways, students don’t clearly see the impact Feds has on their undergraduate experience. Through clubs, student space, commercial services, events, and academic representation, Feds should be considered the best friend of every undergrad on this campus. Except it’s not, and I think that’s the true problem here.

The reason the electorate is forced to have to hear the same “student consultation” answer each year isn’t because candidates are lazy. It’s because candidates are neglecting to acknowledge the real issue here: that Feds does a poor job of making itself relevant and important to undergrads on this campus.  

Student consultation doesn’t work if students don’t care about what you’re asking them about.  We need to shift the conversation towards making Feds a visible, relevant, important part of the undergraduate experience on campus. Once that’s done, then we can start talking about how to better consult with students since they’ll actually care about what we’re asking. 

People will care if you give them reasons to — so make them care.

Kristen Leal

UW Alumna, 2013

Feds councillor and director, ‘11-’12

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