The Burlap Sack is a recurring Gateway opinion column for students to express grievances on anything from campus life, to provincial politics, to everyday hot takes.
There’s a lot on students’ minds as we return to campus this fall — tuition increases, rising cost of living, and the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. If there’s one thing we need this year, it’s stability and support. What we don’t need are unfunny and dated memes on social media, especially from those who are supposed to represent us.
Unfortunately, the University of Alberta Students’ Union’s (UASU) didn’t get the memo. Their social media pages have bad memes aplenty.
When I followed the UASU, I was expecting reminders for important events happening on campus, or educational posts on things affecting students. What I wasn’t expecting was repeatedly corny attempts to relate to students, like the new slogan for UASU Perks: “do stuff, get shit.”
I like memes as much as the next person. But, it’s not something I expect or want to see from those who represent me. Especially now, when students are struggling to pay for an education, which is diminishing in quality.
This isn’t a new issue either. The UASU has been questioned for their insensitive and downright weird posts in the past. Sadly, it seems like they haven’t really learned. In 2019, the SU tried to be relatable by making memes about current events affecting students. The result was a less-than-funny Halloween newsletter labelling the then-recent budget cuts as “spooky” in the subject line. Our current SU isn’t there yet, but it’s a slippery slope.
The fact of the matter is that the UASU shouldn’t have to try this hard and still be this unrelatable. So many of the jokes or references made are old — they’ve been around for months, and they’re no longer funny.
I don’t know about everyone else, but when it’s the first day of school and I’m checking to see if I missed any important information, I’m not exactly wondering if my summer break was bussin’. Not weeks after the trend ended, anyway. Or, when learning about incredible opportunities offered by the UASU, like the STRIDE Campaign School, I don’t care if “school really slaps rn.”
In the end, these cringe-worthy posts take away from actual important information the UASU is trying to share. Instead of focusing on amazing opportunities or events being hosted, I get stuck on the language they’re using.
Many at the SU are our age, and also students — how are they this far behind in internet culture, and so tone-deaf? Students want to be taken seriously. This does the opposite.
Granted, there’s no reason why the SU can’t have fun with their posts. There just needs to be a hard line between what’s necessary, and what’s for gags. Not all the memes on their page are relevant to anything that’s happening on campus. Some recent ones are about random stuff that means nothing to most students, but seem more like inside jokes to those who posted it. When the time comes for the SU to stand up for students, are they going to make memes instead?
If anything, I want the UASU to consider what they post before they post it. Some critical questions need consideration. Is a caption like “It’s hot AF this week!” on a photo of an ice cream sandwich that important to share to the student population? Or, should we focus on ensuring that students have adequate representation?