Students’ Union is seeking ways to improve the student engagement in the board of directors
This year the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union set a goal to increase the number of students running for positions in the elections.
However, the beginning of the election period saw a shortage of students running for board of director positions, resulting in eight acclaimed directors. Following the reopening of elections, eight new candidates entered the race for the remaining four spots on the board of directors.
“We actually saw more students than in the past come up to us and talk about the roles, come talk to current and past directors,” said Kaipa Bharucha, assistant chief returning officer for the Students’ Union elections. “It was really interesting in that sense because a lot of people seemed intrigued by what the position was as a whole.”
She believes that students who expressed interest may have made the decision not to run because they realized they couldn’t put in the time the position deserved.
“We had a lot of candidates this year who talked to us as well saying, ‘I’m going to run next year, I absolutely have plans to, I couldn’t organize my time or my schedule enough to be able to take two-and-a-half weeks out to apply for this position,’ ” she added.
The eight candidates who are currently running for the four remaining spots on the board are, according to Bharucha, very dedicated despite applying for the second deadline.
“It drove a sense of, ‘I’m seeing there’s this lack of interest in the position and I want to be someone who can step up to that and put my voice in as well because I see the value in it,’ ” she said.
“I get that not everyone did that in the first round.”
In order to help inform students about elected positions such as the board or president, Bharucha said the Union relies a lot on word of mouth.
“There’s only so much social media marketing you can do to try to advertise without having to explain in paragraphs what the board is and what its function is.”
Derek Worden, one of the non-acclaimed director candidates, noted the work the Union has done to bring awareness to the board via social media or hawk talks, which were put on by the ownership linkage committee.
“I think that we need to work to be able to communicate what we do in the most simplest terms that any student can understand that they can start thinking hey maybe that’s something I’d want to be involved with,” he continued.
Hem Patel, another non-acclaimed director candidate, said he believes making a personal connection with students will be the key to increasing engagement.
“That’s more important than getting connections through social media or anything,” he said.
“Because when you do a personal connection that’s when you actually go about making a difference between the students and the Students’ Union — creating the transparency.”
Many of the candidates who are running now were approached by current or acclaimed directors.
Bharucha noted that Laurier’s political science program and school of business and economics directly relate to the director positions.
“I have to submit a monitoring report to the board of directors, so one of my goals is going to be how do we push this further, how do we make a more integrated marketing strategy.”
Bharucha said bringing awareness to the board needs to be a year-round process.
Worden said he would also like to see information about the board to be more visible on the Students’ Union website. In addition, he said there should be more of a push earlier on in the school year for people to think about running for board.
“I would like to see some more even as early as October, just so people know that it’s coming and they can start preparing so it’s not a last minute decision to run,” he said.
Overall, Bharucha said they are in good shape with the eight candidates they have running and eight acclaimed who are still participating in campaigning.