The Durham College Student Association has a new executive chair and one new director but the rest of the board remains vacant despite a general election in March.That means there are no student representatives for the schools of Health and Social Services, Justice and Emergency Services, Skilled Trades, Apprenticeship and Renewable Technology, Science and Engineering Technology, Hospitality and Horticulture Science, and Interdisciplinary Studies – as well as Business Management and Information Technology which is up for by-election.
The DCSA represents the school community and creates various services and supports to enhance the student experience, according to the organization.
Voting for the new board took place between March 22 and March 24. The nomination period for directors was even extended to find candidates. But that was not enough to bring new faces into office. At the end of the election, the certified list of candidates remained sparse.
Operations manager and secretary of the board Charles Wilson said the upcoming by-election was called after the winner stepped down.
“(The elected director) emailed the morning after stating they did want to assume the office,” Wilson said but,“had they withdrawn before the beginning of the voting period then the position would have been acclaimed.”
Megan Bent was acclaimed to the role of executive chair and chief elected officer, while Sameeksha Dandriyal replaces Bent as the director of Media Art and Design.
As for the vacant positions, Wilson says it was a decision of the board to keep them open because there had been expressions of interest.
“There were a few that were no longer interested, and a few that were still interested,” he said.
Wilson said the plan is to try and fill the vacant positions in time for the fall semester.
“We do always run some sort of contingent election for vacant seats at the end (of the year,)” he said.
Owen Toth, a 911 Communications student at Durham College, says that the lack of people filling positions on a board that is designed to assist students is troubling.
“It definitely concerns me a little bit. I know me and my friends have been talking and it worries us all,” he said.
Additionally, Toth said that he knew “a little bit” about the election process of the DCSA, but was not fully aware of the nomination period, voting times or results.
Wilson said the board took a few different measures to communicate the call for nominations to the student body.
“There were two emails sent out for the nomination process, then we did an aggressive social media campaign,” he said.
The DCSA is funded through ancillary fees paid by students. These include Health and Wellness Support Services, Student Centre Capital Investment, and a Student Life Fee, among others.
The total payment for each student is around $373, unless students opt out of the health and dental plan. It’s a price Toth said he wishes he knew more about when he paid it.
“I feel a little bit ripped off. I feel like I should have more say and more knowledge on this stuff,” he said.
Charles, however, said that the DCSA is fully transparent about where students’ money is going.
The reality is that our budget is online, our financial statements are online,” said Wilson. We do have an open book and we encourage you to look at your budget.”
Meanwhile, the DCSA also held a referendum during the election to ask students whether to add a mandatory e-sports recreation fee of $7.50 a year starting in September 2023, which would increase to $15 in September 2024.
The motion failed with 395 students voting against it and 159 voting in favour, and 45 abstaining.