A fresh start: A new student association Durham College

Photo by John Cook

Naqi Hyder, co-director of DC Studnets Inc.

Durham College students might not be too familiar with the acronym DCSI. Not yet, that is.

Student leadership at DC’s new, independent student association hopes the upcoming election, along with events to promote engagement, is going to change that.

Following the separation of the joint DC-UOIT Student Association last year, students at the college have been represented by Durham College Students Inc., or DCSI, while university students have their own organization.

According to its website, DCSI serves multiple functions including: advocating for student’s rights, providing a range of support services for students, and engaging students to “become part of the college culture.”

Peter Garrett and Naqi Hyder are the current co-directors of DCSI. However, unlike previous Student Association leadership, neither were elected to their posts.

Due to a series of incidents and obstacles, DC’s regularly scheduled SA election was cancelled last minute, leaving some confusion who would be at the helm of the new student union.

Both got into their current positions by applying for a summer job with DC last year. Their duties were to assist in the creation of a new student union, and lay a framework for how DCSI would be run.

“Originally it was a four-month contract,” said Garrett. “We had to put together a plan to represent the students during the transition… Once the negotiations reached a certain point, myself and Naqi put forward an option to the school that we’d be willing to stay on, and all parties involved agreed.”

By September, DCSI will have its first elected representatives, according to DCSI. The nomination process for interested candidates began Feb. 12, with the voting to commence later this month.

Holding an election this year is critical for DCSI. As the association is in its infancy, failing to hold an election for two consecutive years would severely damage student trust, says Hyder.

“As long as we can have students that are engaging and voting for the person they think should represent them, I think our job here is done,” said Hyder.

Although he was appointed to his current position, Hyder said he is planning on running for a leadership position in next year’s SA.

He says his favourite part of the job has been listening to students and the range of issues that affect them. He says the DCSI office on the second floor of the Student Centre is always open to hear comments from students, whether positive or not.

“I’m a student myself so I completely understand what students are going through,” said Hyder. “But if they were to tell us about those issues, it makes our job easier.”

However, there have been a few bumps in the road for the new student union at DC. While leadership has been setting a foundation for the SA on things like budget items, the code of ethics, and staffing the office, students still don’t seem to know much about DCSI.

Last week, they were in the Pit asking students to follow the official social media handles for the organization. Flyers with information on the election have been circulating around the campus for at least a week.

“We did not begin operations in September with a marketing department,” said Garrett. “So it was myself and Naqi that established everything we could to maintain the services like outreach, Riot Radio, the health plan…”

Jonathan Franz is the new marketing manager for DCSI. He was brought on at the start of the winter semester, and is hoping his experience as volunteer coordinator for Riot Radio will help bring DCSI’s message to students.

He is working on a re-design of the SA’s website, improving social media engagement, and helping organize events and information tables, all with student engagement in mind.

“The main thing right now is elections,” said Franz. “And getting students in to run for positions as executives or on the board of directors.”

Any students who are interested in running for a position in next year’s DCSI leadership can visit their website, or stop by their office for more information.