Bite the Ballot: Board of Governors Representative

It’s kind of a mystery why the Undergraduate Board of Governors Representative is still voted on during Students’ Union elections.

Having the BoG candidates run alongside the executives almost forces them to come up with a platform, though their job description is essentially forming relationships with the board members  the most well-intentioned platform points mean nothing if the candidate doesn’t know how to negotiate and politic effectively with the BoG members. The position is also unpaid. For many reasons, it would make more sense for the position to go to an already-elected member of council.

But I digress. At least this year’s sole candidate for BoG rep, second-year law student Azhar Khan, keeps things realistic. His goals for his position on the board are simple  unity and transparency  and seem to work well within the limits of the position.

Khan’s main goal as BoG rep is to maintain a “united front” with the SU President (the only other undergraduate student representative on the board). It’s possible that this principle may cause Khan to be pushed around by the Students’ Union (or vice-versa), but since this strategy hasn’t been openly tested in recent memory, it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the BoG this year, given that he’s elected – particularly on the issue of tuition increases. Students’ Council is mandated to oppose any proposed hikes to tuition, often leaving the SU President with no option but to vote down or abstain from board motions pertaining to tuition increases. It would be unfortunate to see Khan vote down increases to tuition that could legitimately benefit students, all in the name of principle.

Khan’s second platform point is to push for greater financial transparency within the BoG. From the outside, at least, this goal seems largely unrealistic. But hey, if he feels like attempting to chip away at the ivory tower which is the BoG, all power to him.

Being the only candidate in the race, Khan has raised several eyebrows for not campaigning as hard as he could have. He didn’t send a bio to the SU to publish on their website prior to elections, and he had a proxy (current BoG rep, Sangram Hansra) take his place at the Campus St. Jean forum last week. Though it may be irritating to watch a candidate not “give it their all” on the campaign trail, it seems trivially nitpicky to question Khan’s suitability for the role over these minor missteps.

Perhaps more troubling, though, is the possibility of a trend of only students in professional programs fulfilling the BoG rep position (Hansra, the current representative, is also a law student). As students in these programs tend to be older than typical undergraduates, and presumably more confident speaking with senior BoG members, it makes sense why they’re a good fit for the role. But it would be troubling if for years to come the position intended to represent all students traditionally only goes to students from one faculty.

Despite the minor criticism received this week, Khan is certainly worth voting for in favour of the None of the Above (NOTA) option. While his campaign hasn’t been flashy, he shows promise for representing students well on the board this year.

One Comment

  1. My only real gripe is his campaign budget. Running unopposed and being virtually guaranteed the position means you should spend little to no money and coast through the campaign, or get to work planning what you’re going to do once you “win”.

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