Durham College Students Inc., (DCSI) has a new executive chairperson who wants to improve student life on campus.
Natalie Bartley, 32, joined the DCSI board of directors after an election in May. She says it is important for a student body to know its needs are being addressed.
“Apart from improving some services, [DCSI] is also looking at renovating the Student Centre to make it more student-friendly,” Bartley says. “Right now it’s not being utilized the way it needs to be. This needs to be a student’s safe space, where anyone can come at any time and feel like their voice will be heard.”
The executive chairperson sits on the DCSI board of directors and represents DCSI inside and outside of DC. One of her main responsibilities is to promote student involvement in DCSI events.
“I’m here. Send me an email, come talk to me, I will always be here to listen,” says Bartley. “If you call me, I will get your voicemail. I want to make sure students have somewhere they can go and be heard.”
Bartley is also a student at DC in the entrepreneurship and small business program.
She says her time spent as a student at different schools gives her a unique advantage as a student representative at DC. Bartley comes to DC after attending three schools observing other student governments in action. She has spent time as a student at Laurentian University and Cambrian College in Sudbury and Memorial University of Newfoundland.
“I’ve seen so many student governments that ignore the word of the people who elected them,” Bartley says. “Some governments may not listen to them, or they may just say ‘we hear what you’re saying but we know best,’ and I do not want to run DCSI that way.”
Bartley believes there is no limit to building a student-first community on campus.
“We do have a couple of plans for expansion. We have plans for spaces to be more student-focused, with more student jobs and more spaces for students to come, sit and feel included,” Bartley says.
After a rocky past couple of years for DCSI, under her arrival Bartley wants students to feel confident in their student government.
DCSI fired three executive members in June, 2018. Reasons behind the dismissal were not included in an Aug. 27 letter to students.
Read more: DCSI operating in uncertainty
“I come into this position completely fresh. I had nothing to do with what has happened before me,” Bartley says. “I am completely fresh.”