Photo by: Brenden Cowan
The Brock University Students Union (BUSU) had two important updates last week that present both short-term and long-term implications.
The results of the bylaws referendum are in. From Oct. 25-27, BUSU asked students to vote “yes” or “no,” as to whether they were in favour of changing the bylaws that focused on the structure of BUSU. This would include the board structure, and how vacancies and executives are elected.
The referendum passed, although participation was low. Only 15.7 per cent of Brock students voted. Out of those who cast their vote, 1754 (75.2 per cent) voted “yes”, and 579 (24.8 per cent) voted “no.”
“We understand that these changes can be scary, but BUSU has the responsibility to represent students and advocate for their needs above anything else, and these changes will allow that to be at the forefront of everything BUSU does,” said Andrea Lepage, vice president of finance and administration at BUSU.
Lepage explains that in the short-term, most changes will take effect in the next academic year, however, the long-term expectation is for an increase in accountability and better opportunities for students with more seats becoming available.
Additionally, to the new available positions, the new process involves a student-led appointment, which according to BUSU will lead to the most skilled people and most suitable to represent the undergraduate students being elected.
Another take away from the referendum is the rebranding of the Council (BUSAC) to the Brock University Students’ Union Advisory Council (BUSUAC).
“[Rebranding BUSAC will] make it open to all students who want to join. Currently, this council is only available to those who go through an election, but we think it’s essential that any student can have a say on important issues that affect them,” said Lepage.
In other big news, BUSU’s president Faten Darbaj has resigned from the position.
When asked if the resignation was related to the referendum being passed, Lepage denied any connection and said they were not at liberty to discuss Darbaj’s choice to resign from BUSU.
Meanwhile, Lepage and vice-president of student services, Yasmine Hejazi, will jointly take on the president’s responsibilities on top of their current roles.
“These are not the circumstances we wanted or even imagined at the beginning of our term, but we are excited to continue advocating for and with students through the great work that we have done so far this year and have planned for next semester. We are prepared to take on the additional responsibilities for as long as they need to be filled,” said both Lepage and Hejazi in a cowritten response.
Even though it is unclear how long this arrangement will hold, they have support from other staff at BUSU which aims to maintain their focus on undergraduate students.
“We have an office of full-time staff and student staff who are available to support as needed. With the passing of the referendum, we will be looking to hire a new President for the 2023–2024 year next semester,” said Lepage. “Students can expect the same level of representation and support from our Executive team. We have a lot of great initiatives and programming planned for the rest of the year.”
The referendum results and the resignation of BUSU’s president bring unexpected changes, only time will tell how these play out.