The Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) is built on a student government foundation that represents undergraduate students. In ways, it is like high school government, though the scope of the work they do and the stakes involved are wider and more significant. BUSU’s essential function is to represent the best interests of the student population. BUSU’s leadership includes several bodies, including the Board of Directors, which oversees the financial and legal decisions, as well as human resources, within the union. The Brock University Student Advisory Council (BUSAC) governs by-laws and policies, capital requests and club funding as well as elections. There are five committees with specialized purposes within BUSU, including the Appeals Committee and Finance, Planning & Sustainability Committee; and a team of four executive members. This year’s executive team is comprised of Vice President, Student Services (VPSS) Heidi Stricko; Vice President, Finance and Administration (VPFA) Asad Jalib; Vice President, External Affairs (VPEA) Niveditha Sethumadhavan and President Bilal Khan. Professional and student staff members are also part of the students’ union and can be found overseeing clubs, assisting visitors at the front desk of the BUSU office and more.
BUSU exists to represent undergraduate students. Voting in elections ensures you have your say in the people chosen to represent your interests in planning events such as Welcome Week, lobbying externally, negotiating transit changes and more. Participating in referendums is your chance to have a say when it comes to decisions including creating or cutting funding for services and new buildings. While it may not appear that every referendum will affect you directly, it is likely that many of them will.
In the 2018–2019 year, BUSU was budgeted to receive over $1.5 million from student fees alone. Whether or not you care about the ideals of elected officials representing student interests, you have financial incentive to care what these officials do with your funds. Decisions such as the recent vote to build a new student centre can even impact students who come after you.
Each year, BUSU holds two general meetings for members of the organization in which they discuss BUSU operations. The undergraduate population is among this membership. If the quorum is met, meaning two per cent of organization members—including undergraduate students—are present, then these meetings can be used to make crucial decisions, like creating new referendums, as enough members are present to be considered representative of the membership. In recent years, the quorum has not been met and these meetings have instead served as information sessions for those who choose to attend.
This year, opting out of fees will be a hot topic on campus as we navigate recent changes to this system. Traditionally, students have been charged per credit fees, or ancillary fees, for services such as funding clubs, daycare, federal advocacy and levies such as the green levy automatically. All such fees deemed non-essential will now be optional, meaning students can choose to opt-out of the fees they do not support. The controversial move was introduced by the provincial government in January 2019 and is currently facing a court challenge from the Canadian Federation of Students. The Brock Press will continue to report on new information as it becomes available. BUSU’s office is located on the third floor of the Student Alumni Centre, next to Brock’s on-campus Starbucks. Students seeking information from the student union can visit in person, call the front desk at (905)-688-5550 extension 3560, or utilize the BUSU website or social media.