To an outsider, WUSA might seem like a supportive service for students who enjoy extracurricular activities, based on how they love to boast about its 200+ student-run clubs. Its promise, after all, is to be supportive.
The insiders, however, disagree. I speak based on the experiences of the presidents, executives, and friends currently running these clubs when I say this: that promise has been broken. Repeatedly.
Everyone has their strong suits, but unfortunately, support and compassion are not WUSA’s. As an executive member of several clubs, I’ve noticed that WUSA doesn’t seem to genuinely care about students’ problems when it comes to club activities, and exchanges with them are usually unhelpful and disappointing.
When you do get some assistance, it’s often the bare minimum and lacks solutions, especially when it comes to finances. Clubs receive only $75 per term, forcing students to seek additional sponsors or apply for student funding with strict requirements. One club member contacted WUSA for help with their club’s financial struggles because they were having trouble hosting events. WUSA suggested they apply to receive funds, but proceeded to say that they probably wouldn’t get any because their club was not deemed significant enough to make an impact on the overall student community. That was its only suggestion.
Another student reported having issues getting any money for their club. Club members pay out of pocket and can receive reimbursement by submitting a cheque request form. However, that form has a due date and not all club members are aware of this. When this student tried to get their club’s reimbursement, WUSA told them they had missed the deadline — by one week. Clubs fell apart during the pandemic, and not every rule or key piece of information was passed down to new members. As the parent organization for clubs, WUSA should ensure that incoming students and executives have this information, right? The student wasn’t made aware of the deadline because it was never mentioned, not even in the president training that WUSA runs. This is clear proof of the blatant apathy from our student organization to pass on important information that could literally make or break a club (and a student’s bank account). Instances like these are discouraging for students trying to run clubs — if our own student union doesn’t care to help us and see us succeed, then where else do we go?
Alas, there’s more. WUSA promises to be responsive and adaptable, yet some of us aren’t even given the time of day. WUSA is often hard to reach, which not only sets clubs back, but continues to discourage students from reaching out to WUSA when they need help. Students have waited weeks for responses that they desperately need as the information isn’t posted anywhere, and some students even reported not hearing back at all. Club members have emailed WUSA with questions about marketing services on their website, and after waiting seven days for an email back, WUSA’s response was to redirect them to the website they had started with — back to square one, with no alternative solution for their own services. Other students have faced obstacles in booking events. Event request forms have to be approved by WUSA before you can begin marketing, and if WUSA takes their sweet time to approve it, your biggest concern isn’t even whether or not you’ll have enough time to advertise your event, but whether or not you’ll even have an event. Some students have submitted request forms well in advance, yet still haven’t heard back in the days leading up to the event. An organization like WUSA should be making everything more seamless for executive members, and not adding to club members’ stresses and problems. We shouldn’t have to worry that our events won’t happen when we submit request forms two weeks ahead of time. It shouldn’t be up to us to keep track of the previous president’s locker locations, and when we ask where our club’s locker is, follow up with WUSA three times about it, and we should definitely not get ghosted — yes, that actually happened.
WUSA’s poor communication isn’t just a pet peeve at this point — it’s a genuine obstacle for students who want to see their clubs succeed, and all it does is prolong issues. They’re not accommodating in any way either. This is especially prevalent with co-op students, who often work until 5 p.m. The meeting times that WUSA offers are not accessible, and one club reported waiting almost a month to meet with them for an issue on WUSA’s end that should’ve been a quick fix. Everyone is busy nowadays, and we understand WUSA has a lot to deal with. But their lack of flexibility is impeding students’ abilities to run things smoothly, and their inability to recognize their faults is almost worse. Apologizing for mishaps or acknowledging when they cause our clubs inconveniences would go a long way.
WUSA has demonstrated, time and again, their incapacity to deal with students effectively and respectfully — something clearly needs to change. WUSA’s environment is not welcoming, nurturing, or supportive. They need more people, more organization, and more effort overall. Our student union should be empowering students, not sabotaging them. How can we feel supported by an organization that clearly demonstrates they don’t care about the success of the students they supposedly represent?
I know that 34,000+ undergrads and 200+ clubs are not exactly easy numbers. There are a lot of students to look after and there’s bound to be a couple of hiccups. It becomes a problem though, when those hiccups turn into patterns, and the patterns turn into character — and this is an issue that’s been going on for far too long.
We all know the saying: with great power comes great responsibility. Well, WUSA, it’s time to start being responsible. Ditch the passive aggressive exchanges and weak communication attempts. Start showing a little empathy, accountability, and respect to the students you’re supposed to be supporting. It’s time to start caring about all the clubs that we care about.