DZSURDZSA: Student unions are prone to corruption and it’s time that they get defunded
I finished my undergraduate degree as a student in the fall of 2018 and I’m happy that Doug Ford is giving students the option to opt out of student union fees.
Student unions have done nothing but waste and mismanage student funds for far too long.
They’re bloated and inefficient institutions that run deficits and have virtually no oversight.
Student unions aren’t real democracies
Supporters of student unions like to parade the fact that all decisions are made via a democratic framework. If you were to believe them, you’d think that every decision and how every penny is spent is decided upon by the student body, but this is far from the case.
Election turnouts at the University of Waterloo’s student government were so abysmally low that their results would never be accepted by the general public in a national election.
In 2015, the Federation of Students (FEDS) election turnout was less than 5%. A year later it was only 9%. Imagine if a prime minister or an MP was elected by less than 5% of voters, would we still claim that they represent the interest of Canadians?
Yet student union representatives brazenly claim that they are speaking for the voice of all students, when a majority of who they represent didn’t participate in electing them.
The lack of interest in student government, emboldens “elected” representatives to believe they can get away with anything and engage in frivolous spending.
Student unions are plagued by corruption
At best, student unions are extremely inefficient, and at worst, they’re participating in the downright theft of student funds.
In 2016, the Ryerson student union ran a deficit of nearly $1 million dollars. In 2014, Concordia ran a deficit of $330,000 which they shadily tried to cover up. Or take University of Ottawa for example, who also had a financial crisis of their own, running a $514,461 deficit in 2016.
Really, what do we expect when putting young and inexperienced people in charge of millions of dollars?
While running deficits might simply be a case of inexperience and financial illiteracy, some student union representatives have simply opted for defrauding their student body.
Last year, the University of Ottawa launched an audit into their own student union after it was revealed that elected officials were defrauding student funds for personal pleasure.
Student union fees are ending up in the pockets of executives
Student union fees are forced upon every student whether they like it or not.
A lot of students don’t use the services managed or implemented by their student unions, while executives pocket money and make exorbitant salaries.
In 2011 and 2012, a 35-year old McMaster student union executive, Sam Minniti, made a six figure salary averaging about $125,000 a year. After he was dismissed, instead of apologizing, he sued the university for $500,000 alleging wrongful dismissal.
Students are fed up with their unions
Claiming that the Ontario government’s move is an affront to students is simply untrue.
Students have expressed a desire in the past to get out of paying student union fees.
In 2012, the University of Guelph stopped collecting fees for their student union after students voiced their opposition in a referendum.
At the University of Guelph, students overwhelmingly voted against being charged student union fees.
If left alone, student unions just become entitled cliques serving the interest of the few while wasting the money of the many.
Personally, I thank Doug Ford and the provincial government for taking the step to empower students throughout Ontario, I only wish he had done it sooner.