A little transparency from the student union would go a long way
This semester, reporting on the Concordia Student Union (CSU) has been a little tricky for us here at The Concordian.
Firstly, we haven’t been getting the CSU’s emails. Last year, we received notices a few days before a regular or special council meeting would take place. This year, The Concordian received a total of one email regarding a special council meeting back in July. Since then, nothing.
Now, there can be a variety of reasons why we have not been getting notifications, and it might be a simple oversight. If anything, not getting these emails has made us, as journalists, work a little harder, as we have to actively seek out information.
Our jobs are further complicated when the actual times and places of meetings cannot seem to be found anywhere on the CSU’s social media. Not only does this make it hard for us to report on what goes on, but it makes it impossible for students who wish to attend to do so. After all, council meetings are open to the public.
And it’s not like the CSU hasn’t been active on social media; they post lots of things on their Facebook page concerning upcoming events, but not a word about meetings.
The CSU has also neglected to post any documents to their website so far this year. In the past, the union would post meeting minutes about a month after fact since minutes would be approved at the following council meeting. While the website is reportedly under construction, and has been for some time, there is no information listed about when the site will be updated or how documents can be accessed in the meantime.
The CSU has also not posted any budgets since 2012. Especially this year, when the CSU is running a large deficit and asking students for a fee levy increase, the union should be more focused on transparency.
While these problems pose massive inconveniences to anyone looking to learn about the activities of the CSU, the solutions are relatively simple. Information about meetings should be posted clearly and in advance on social media, via the pre-existing email list and on a backup website. The CSU represents thousands of undergraduate students, posting updates and documents on a backup site or WordPress is not beyond the stretch of the imagination.
At the end of the day, average Concordia students don’t attend regularly scheduled or special CSU council meetings. But student media do, and we relate the pertinent information to our audience as a service, for free. If the CSU has nothing to hide, then there’s no excuse not to help us to keep the student body informed.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that “The CSU has also not posted any minutes since 2012”. The CSU only stopped posting minutes to the website this year. The Concordian intended to say “budgets” and not “minutes”. The Concordian regrets the error.