SA’s future in hands of DC, UOIT students

Photo by Rebecca Calzavara

The DC and UOIT signs near Conlin Road with a split between them.

Divorce proceedings are underway for the Student Association that has represented students at Durham College (DC) and the University of Ontario Institution of Technology (UOIT) since 2003.

But the outcome of the split won’t be better known until students vote on the proposal in March.

According to a news release from DC’s Internal Communications, Durham, UOIT and the current SA “are collaboratively facilitating the process for a separate DC student association and a separate university student association to emerge.”

But first, students at both schools will get their say on the proposal.

According to DC Internal Communications, an election will be held in March with separate ballots for university and college students, asking whether they support the formation of new student associations at each institution.

The same ballot will also allow students the chance to elect new executives and board members for the new student associations of each school – if they are given the go ahead in the election.

“If both schools don’t agree then it’s back to the drawing board with no SA as of April,” said lawyer D.J. Miller speaking on behalf of Durahm College, at the annual general meeting of the current SA, held Feb. 7.

According to the SA, the nominations for the SA 2017 General Elections will open Feb. 15 at 9 a.m. and voting will then take place March 22-23 of this year.

The SA has been shared between the two schools since 2003-2004, but there were no UOIT students on the executive when UOIT first opened as a school in 2003.

“This represents the first time in UOIT’s history as an institution the opportunity for UOIT to have its own SA,” Miller explained Feb. 7. “It’s a remarkable thing and it’s a great step for UOIT as an institution.”

According to an email sent out on behalf of Durham College president Don Lovisa, DC served notice to the SA in May, 2016, that it will be terminating a contract detailing the relationship and responsibilities between DC and the SA in May, 2017.

He also stated that UOIT did the same thing in September, 2016.

Durham has several reasons why it wants its student population to have its own student association.

Meri Kim Oliver, vice-president of student affairs for Durham College, explained that DC has been asking the SA to look at representation for DC students.

“We feel very strongly that the Durham College students aren’t really having a voice in the decisions being made,” Oliver said. “Durham College students need their own voice and their own representation and their own decision making.”

Oliver explained that from Durham’s perspective the SA has had governance issues over the last three years.

Durham has suspended fee transfers because of those issues, she said, adding the issues have to do with the representation of DC students.

“Durham College and the Student Association both have a strong interest in there being a separate Durham College student association,” Oliver added.

Oliver said, “The college is very invested in this DC SA that is for and by DC students.”

John MacMillan, director of communications at UOIT, confirmed a vote will be held for UOIT students March 22-23.

Helene Asselbergs, chief of staff in the Office of the President of Durham College, explained that there needs to be awareness to DC students about the DC SA election.

“Getting enough interests, candidates, votes and then turning the results to what students want,” Asselbergs said.

Vianney Nengue, the SA’s interim President and VP College Affairs, explained that if students decide to endorse separate student associations at each school, the plan is to share some services – such as health and dental plan, clubs and societies, Campus Life, Tuck Shop, E.P. Taylor’s and Riot Radio.

He supports the decision to split the SA between the two schools.

“Health plan, clubs and societies will stay together, but when it comes to certain representations it will be separate,” Nengue said.

Nengue added that they are still working out little details like websites, structures and positions and having working groups for both DC and UOIT.

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Rebecca is a second year Journalism student at Durham College. She enjoys writing opinion, campus and entertainment pieces for The Chronicle. In her free time, she likes to listen to music and play with her kitten.