What has DCSI done for the students?

cartoon by Melanie Lennon

co-written by Brandon Wright

Childhood icon Bill Nye the Science Guy made a guest appearance at Ontario Tech University on Jan. 20, thanks to the Ontario Tech Student Union (OTSU).

What has Durham College Student Inc. (DSCI) done recently? Handed out popcorn in the Pit … again.

Through their lack of professionalism, transparency and efficient spending, DCSI is, by far, inferior to OTSU.

In their most up-to-date operational plan from the 2017-2018 school year, DCSI claims transparent communication is one of their most important values. Yet, this isn’t accurately displayed.

In 2020, an online presence is one of the most efficient ways to communicate with college students. DCSI is undeniably lacking in this department.

Instagram and Facebook appear to be their go-to platforms to engage with students and notify the campus of upcoming events. However, both accounts are only updated a few times a month.

DCSI also has Twitter but they appear to use this site the least.

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are arguably three of the most used social media platforms today. For DCSI to irregularly post on each, shows insufficient effort to communicate with the students on those sites.

OTSU uses the same platforms but with far more consistency. The student union uses all three equally and updates each on a day-to-day basis.

Their official website also proves to be a reliable source. The site is easy to navigate, and provides students with organized and up-to-date information on fees and upcoming events.

Similar to OTSU, DCSI separates the content on their website through tabs. However, the information within each section is outdated.

Therefore, DCSI’s website is lacking relevant information students want and need.

The ‘events’ tab on their landing page simply says, “More events are on the way! Please visit again for more details!”

Not only that, the union hasn’t posted anything under their “news” tab since April, 2019.

The only thing that is up to date on their website is their 2019-2020 budget, which isn’t exactly easy to locate.

In The Chronicle’s attempts to obtain this year’s budget, since it’s practically hidden on their site, we were faced with many obstacles.

Those obstacles? Weeks of follow-ups, new contacts, and an ultimatum.

After initially reaching out to Natalie Bartley, executive chairperson and chief elected officer, we were passed along to various people within the union.

It wasn’t until two weeks later that we received a vague answer in the form of a link from DCSI’s General Manager Faris Lehn.

After a bit of confusion on our behalf, we contacted Lehn again, saying we needed a clear answer as the information on their website is unclear.

He then responded with, “We are an open book and here to support.” A statement DCSI struggled to demonstrate based on our experience.

OTSU, however, is an open book. Their yearly budget is easy to locate and understand.

After comparing the two union’s fees, it is clear they operate with considerably different financial plans.

According to their 2019-2020 budgets, OTSU performs with a revenue of approximately $3.9 million, whereas DCSI operates with approximately $5.6 million.

Despite having close to $2 million more than their campus counterparts, DCSI has a track record of not delivering to student’s expectations, as evidenced through their underwhelming events calendar.

Hand-delivering popcorn and pizza a few times a week isn’t the most thrilling method of student engagement, especially when the food isn’t even free.

Many students are drawn to the idea of a complimentary snack, but aren’t always aware they’re the ones funding it.

A Durham College (DC) student waiting in line for “free” popcorn said DCSI is unclear about what they’re doing to represent the students.

“I’ve received an email from [DCSI] one time asking me to join them, but yeah, I don’t really know what they do,” she said.

When told the popcorn isn’t free, multiple students said they would rather DCSI put the money towards something else.

With $125,000 of their budget going towards events on campus, it’s fair to assume DCSI has big plans for DC students. So, how come so many students don’t even know the school has a union?

OTSU devotes $167,500 of their budget towards bettering their campus life. With those fees, the union has put on concerts, fairs and, most recently, brought in guest speaker Bill Nye.

Tickets for this event ranged from $25 to $40 and brought in an audience of approximately 1,500 people.

With fairly similar budgets for this category, why can OTSU arrange memorable, high traffic events and all DCSI can do is hand out food?

Students want their voices heard by the people elected to represent them.

OTSU President Owen Davis said he makes sure of this. He said the student union regularly sends out satisfaction surveys to develop a better understanding of what the students want.

“The only reason why I could do this is because all the students are engaged,” he said. “We’re happy to keep doing this for our students.”

It’s quite clear there’s a communication barrier between DCSI and the students.

DCSI proves themselves to be inferior to their campus counterparts through their failure to update the student union’s online platforms, their lack of efficient spending and underwhelming events.

With DSCI’s election process beginning Feb. 20, it’s the perfect time to make a change.

Let your voice be heard.